Page images

We could have wished to continue our account of Captain Ross's Narrative without any other expressions save those of praise; but the disagreeable interpolations which we have above quoted, have so grated on our ears that we are forced to notice them. Captain Ross's name does not belong to faction, but to his country; and a volume addressed to Europe, should not have disseminated the elements of that political fanaticism which denounces the reformers of our institutions as the authors of anarchy, and the friends of education as the enemies of our Protestant faith. That Captain Ross should be the enemy of knowledge, or unfriendly to its diffusion, is indeed strange. It was for knowledge, and that too of a limited kind, that he exposed himself to the horrors of four Arctic winters; it is to knowledge that he owes his professional and social rank; and as he has himself experienced the intellectual joy and the moral elevation which knowledge imparts, we trust that he will not be displeased if the instruction and amusement which his own costly narrative conveys, and the lessons of patience and pious resignation which it reads, should be communicated to the humble artisan and the lowly peasant; even though they should be drawn, as they must be, from a Penny Magazine.'

[ocr errors]

For the purpose of explaining more correctly the isthmus which separates Prince Regent's inlet from the Western sea, Commander Ross set out on a fourth expedition on the 17th May, and Captain Ross on another upon the 30th. Commander Ross was accompanied with four men, including Mr Abernethy, and carried three weeks' provisions. Passing through Graham's valley, and the middle lake in the isthmus of Boothia, they reached the lofty cape Isabella. On the 20th, he crossed the Western sea at Matty island, and continued his track of discovery along the north-west coast of America, having fairly rounded the most northern point of this part of the continent, and seen Franklin point in lat. 69° 31' 13", and west long. 99° 17′ 58′′. In consequence of the want of provisions, the party was obliged to retrace their steps, and they returned to the ship on the 13th of June.

Captain Ross's expedition followed the tract of Commander Ross as far as the Western sea at Padliak; and having examined Spence bay and the lakes to the W. S. W. of the isthmus, he returned to the ship by cape Keppel and Adolphus island, on the 7th June. From his survey it appears that the isthmus of Boothia is only seventeen or eighteen miles broad, twelve of these being fresh water lakes, so that only five miles of land intervene between the Eastern and Western sea. If a north-west passage is to be any longer an object of anxiety, it

must be cut by engineers from the gulf of Boothia to the Wes

tern sea.

During the last weeks of August and the beginning of September, preparations were anxiously made for escaping from their harbour; and, after many disappointments, they at last succeeded, on the 17th September, in warping through the bay ice, and finding themselves under sail, and in all the freedom of clear water. The weather, however, was so severe, that on the 23d they were completely frozen in, and on the 29th, all hopes of 'their liberation were fast passing away.' They had, therefore, but to cut their way through ice at the average velocity of thirty feet a-day, till they were settled for another year in Sheriff harbour, having advanced 850 feet in the month of October.

The preparations for this winter, and the events which marked it, were nearly the same as before; but to the great disappointment of the party, the Esquimaux did not appear till the 21st of April. Commander Ross had set out on the 20th, to examine more minutely the opening through the land, which the Esquimaux had indicated as existing to the north; and he returned on the 1st of May, having succeeded in uniting the coast of Sheriff harbour, in the direction of Stanley river and lake Owen, with that part of it to the north of Elizabeth harbour which they had explored from the ship in 1829.

On the 15th of May, Captain and Commander Ross undertook an expedition to explore a second chain of lakes, and the west coast of the peninsula. They carried three weeks' provisions for twelve men. After discovering Saumarez river, the Krusenstern lakes, lake Jekyll, and Hansteen lake, Commander Ross advanced to explore the western coast, while Captain Ross returned by Padliak, and reached the ship on the 31st of May.

Continuing his westward route, with the view of reaching that point of the new continent which coincided with the probable position of the Magnetic Pole, Commander Ross followed the coast in a north-west direction; and on the 1st of June he reached the calculated position of the Magnetic Pole, which he had deduced from his own observations. Here he found the dip of the needle to be 89° 59', within one minute of the vertical; and needles, suspended in the most delicate manner possible, exhibited no polarity whatever. The following account of the matter is given by Commander Ross.

'As soon as I had satisfied my own mind on this subject, I made known to the party this gratifying result of all our joint labours; and it was then, that amidst mutual congratulations, we fixed the British flag on the spot, and took possession of the North Magnetic Pole and its adjoining territory, in the name of Great Britain and King William the Fourth, We

had abundance of materials for building, in the fragments of limestone that covered the beach; and we therefore erected a cairn of some magnitude, under which we buried a canister, containing a record of the interesting fact; only regretting that we had not the means of constructing a pyramid of more importance, and of strength sufficient to withstand the assaults of time and of the Esquimaux. Had it been a pyramid as large as that of Cheops, I am not quite sure that it would have done more than satisfy our ambition, under the feelings of that exciting day. The latitude of this spot is 70° 5' 17", and its longitude 96° 46′ 45′′ west.

[ocr errors]

This subject is much too interesting, even to general readers, to permit the omission of a few other remarks relating to the scientific part of this question, desirous as I have been of passing over or curtailing these. During our absence, Professor Barlow had laid down all the curves of equal variation to within a few degrees of the point of their concurrence; leav ing that point, of course, to be determined by observation, should such observation ever fall within the power of navigators. It was most gratifying to find, on our return, that the place which I had thus examined was precisely that one where these curves should have coincided in a centre, had they been protracted on his magnetic chart.'

The observations made by Captain Parry had determined the position of the Magnetic Pole with considerable accuracy. The writer of this article had, from these observations, placed it in 71° 27'; and if we take the two longitudes, at which Captain Parry found the easterly and westerly variation equal in the same parallel of latitude, the mean of these will give us the longitude of the Magnetic Pole. Now, on the 3d of August, in N. lat. 74° 25', and W. long. 80° 8', the variation was 106° 58′ 5′′ westerly; while in N. lat. 74° 26', and W. long. 113° 48′, the variation was 106° 6′ 38′′ easterly. The mean of these longitudes is 96° 58′, differing only 11' from that found by Commander Ross, and even this difference will disappear, when we consider that the variations taken from Captain Parry are not exactly equal. This Magnetic Pole, the strongest of the two in the northern hemisphere, was placed in N. lat. 67° 10', and W. long. 92° 24′, in 1813, by Professor Hansteen of Christiania, who makes its mean annual motion 11' 4", or its period of revolution 1890 years. As seventeen years have elapsed between 1813 and 1830, its motion westward must in that time have been 17 x 11' 425, or 3° 14', which, added to 92° 24', makes the long. 95° 38', a result differing little more than a degree from that given by Commander Ross.

We have no desire to detract from the high merits of this officer, but we cannot regard his observations in the light of a discovery. It was certainly a great satisfaction to stand upon a rock where the dip was 89° 59', and where the polarity of nicely suspended needles was insensible; but it may

[ocr errors]

be questioned whether or not the place of the Magnetic Pole can be best determined by observations made at a distance or near l: the the spot; and we are not satisfied that the position assigned by Commander Ross is more accurate than that given by the curves TX of Professor Barlow, the calculations of Hansteen, and the observations of Captain Parry. But whether this is the case or not, and whether the polarity is definite, or, as we suppose, diffused, we consider it most incorrect to have given it the name of The Magnetic Pole of William IV. Some Russian or French navigator may next year find it a degree to the east or west of the present cairn, and will be equally entitled to give this new place the name of the magnetic pole of Nicholas, or of Louis Philippe. The magnetic pole belongs to science and not to courts; and we think our English pride would be somewhat mortified, if a Swedish vessel passing over the pole of our Northern hemisphere should call upon geographers to give it the name of the North Pole of Carl. IV. Johan. But Commander Ross has forgotten, that the magnetic pole is movable, and that its proximity to Cape Adelaide, and the places named after the other sovereigns of Europe, which he doubtless intended to continue, must soon cease. Our revered sovereign is already parting from his royal friends, and is destined to be carried round the Arctic zone, pointed at by all the needles of all the world for nearly 2000 years, till he returns to Boothia Felix in a. D. 3725,-unless he may have suffered dethronement in passing through the territories of other candidates for polar fame.

In perusing Commander Ross's Narrative respecting the magnetic pole, we have been much surprised to find that neither he nor Captain Ross has made the slightest reference to the Pole of maximum cold, which is placed in or near the regions which they visited, and which is supposed to be coincident with the magnetic pole. Our readers may not perhaps have heard, that it has been proved, from numerous observations, that the pole of the equator is not the pole of greatest cold, as had always been believed, till it was shown by Sir David Brewster that there were two poles of maximum cold in each hemisphere. This singular distribution of heat was deduced from observations made by Mr Scoresby, in the east of Greenland; and from those of Sir Charles Giesecké and the governors of the Danish settlements in West Greenland, extending over a period of nearly seven years. It was confirmed by all the meteorological observations made by Captain Parry and Captain Franklin, and may be considered to be as well-established as any other physical fact.

The position assigned to the pole of maximum cold in North America was 73° N. lat. and 100° of W. long.,-a point little

more than two degrees to the north of the magnetic pole. We looked forward with great anxiety to Captain Ross's volume, for observations relative to this curious point of terrestrial physics; but we have been greatly disappointed in finding that the meteorological results are given complete only for 1830 and 1831. The mean temperature of 1830 was + 3° 311, and that of 1831 +4° 915, but that of 1832 must have been greatly lower, judging from that of some of the months scattered through the narrative. Hence it is obvious that the cold pole is to the west of the isthmus of Boothia, as we have placed it, and this result is strikingly confirmed by the following distinct statement made by Captain


Commander Ross had explored much more of the coast, and it was remarked by both of us, that the temperature on the western side of the peninsula, and on the western lakes, was from 10° to 15° lower than that at the ship, which was on the east side; while the comparisons were made with such care that we could not have been deceived.-P. 576.

These facts approximate, more closely than had been done before, the magnetic and the northern poles, and it is highly probable that they will be found to have some higher and closer connexion than that of accidental locality. If this shall prove to be the case, the cold pole will make the circuit of the earth in 1890 years, and we shall thus obtain a satisfactory explanation of those remarkable revolutions which are indicated not only in the climate, but in the animal and vegetable productions of our globe.

The months of June and July 1831 passed away on board the Victory without any events of importance; excepting an extraor dinary supply of salmon, amounting to 2836-the natives having caught 3378 fish at one haul-a fact which confirms the American tale in which the fish are described as so abundant in certain rivers at some seasons, that they are trampled to death by the hoofs of the horses which ford them.


The appearance of clear water in the beginning of August excited the hopes of our prisoners, and the ship and boats were refitted, and made ready for sea. The Victory was afloat about the end of August, but it was not till the 29th that she was fairly under sail: At the end of the month, she had made an advance of only four miles, having reached no farther than Victoria harbour, where the expedition was doomed to remain for another other year, which passes so quickly in our brief narrative, as well as in the longer one of Captain Ross, must have called forth all the patience and heroism of our prisoners. The weather was more severe than in former years the mercury having remained below Zero for 136 days. The health of the crew had become seriously affected; the natives no longer appeared to cheer and


« PreviousContinue »