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* At half past two, (when I went off deck to dinner) there were some hopes of its clearing, and I left orders to be called on the appearance of land oricea-head. At three, the officer of the watch, who was relieved to his dinner by Mr. Lewis, reported, on his coming into the cabin, that there was some appearance of its clearing at the bottom of the bay: I immediately, therefore, went on deck, and soon after it completely cleared for about ten minutes, and I distinctly saw the land, round the bottom of the bay, forming a connected chain of mountains with those which extended along the north and south sides. This land appeared to be at the distance of eight leagues; and Mr. Lewis, the master, and James Haig, leading man, being sent for, they took its bearings, which were inserted in the log; the water on the surface was at the temperature of 34°. At this moment I also saw a continuity of ice, at the distance of seven miles, extending from one side of the bay to the other, between the nearest cape to ihe north, which I named after Sir George Warrender, and that to the south, which was named after Viscount Castlereagh. The mountains, which occupied the centre, in a north and south direction, were named Croker's Mountains, after the Secretary to the Admiralty. The south-west corner, which formed a spacious bay, completely occupied by ice, was named Barrow's Bay, and is bounded on the south by Cape Castlereagh, and on the north by Cape Rosamond, which is ahead-land, that projects eastward from the high land in the centre. The north corner, which was the iast I had made out, was a deep inlet; and as it answered exactly to the latitude given by Baffin of Lancaster Sound, I have no doubt that it was the same, and consider it a most remarkable instance of the accuracy of that able navigator.* At a quarter past three, the weather again became thick and unsettled; and being now perfectly satisfied that there was no passage in this direction, nor any harbour into which 1 could enter, for the purpose of making magnetical observations, I tacked to join the Alexander, which wasat the distance of eight miles.'—p. 174.
We are seriously grieved to meet with such inconsistencies, and impossibilities, as are contained in the passage here quoted,—and to observe the means employed to give them a claim to authenticity ;—we allude to what are termed ' an accurate view of Baffin's Bay,' and ' a special chart of the land.'—The first observation that strikes us is, that there was not an officer on deck but Mr. Lewis, the whale-fisher, when the Isabella was put about,—not an officer, not a man, saw any thing of the land or ice that blocked up this vast strait, but 'Mr. Lewis, the master, and James Haig, leading man.' All the other officers were at dinner; a word would have brought them up in half a second: that word, however, was not spoken; the whole operations of taking the ' special chart of the land,' tl».' accurate view of the bay,' and heaving the ship about, were silently and secretly carried into effect in ' ten minutes,' and, as it would seem, without the slightest suspicion or knowledge of the officers of the Isabella, who continued to enjoy themselves at dinner, drinking most probably 'success to the passage of Sir James Lancaster's Sound!' It would have been but courteous in Captain Ross, at all events, to call up Captain Sabine, that he too might have seen the land and barrier of ice, and thus have enjoyed the triumph of having his anticipations realized. Let us, however, examine the statement a little more closely.
• If Captain Ross has read Baffin's voyage at all, it must be very loosely, or he
would have known that Baffin never entered the inlet, and of course saw none of his i north corners.'
vOL. XXI. NO. XII. Q ship
The land which Captain Ross so 'distinctly saw round the bottom of the bay' appeared to be at the distance of ' eight leagues,' that is to say twenty four geographical, or twenty-eight English miles. On his ' special chart,' the nearest point is close upon two degrees of longitude, i. e. thirty geographical or thirtyJive English miles; and the two extreme corners, one of which he is pleased to call' Baffin's Lancaster's Sound,' and the other ' Barrow's Bay,' are distant, at the least, fifty English miles! Now we should be glad to ask any nautical man, whether, on seeing land from the quarter-deck of a small vessel, at the distance of from twenty-eight to fifty miles, in any weather, but more especially in thick hazy weather, which just cleared up for ' ten minutes,' he would take upon him to say that such land was continuous? Has it not often happened, we would ask, that openings in the land, forming very wide straits, or inland seas, have been so completely concealed by the locking in of the two head-lands, that ships, though at a very few miles distance, have missed themi How often have the well-known straits of Gibraltar been passed unawares, and at the distance of a few miles, so that navigators found themselves running down the coast of Africa in looking for the entrance! As Captain Ross is familiarly acquainted with the Baltic, we would ask him if a total stranger, in sailing up the Kattigat, could, from appearances, conjecture the existence of either the Great Belt, the Little Belt, or the Sound, even at the distance of ten or twelve miles only from the last of these, though all of them connect it with the Baltic? Who, that was ignorant of the fact, would pretend to say, by looking across the channel from the pier-head of Dover, what inlets, straits, or harbours, might exist on the opposite coast, at the distance of only twenty-four or twentyfive miles f But to bring the matter home to ordinary readers, we may observe that there is not a reach in the Thames that to the eye does not appear to terminate the river; and in many of them, (in the Hope for instance) it is utterly impossible to form a conjecture, at the distance only of two or three miles, what part of the laud is intersected by the stream. Would any stranger, on en.; . tering
•tering Plymouth Sound, have the most distant notion of its communicating with the two magnificent sheets of water, the Hamoaze and Catwater? or venture to say that Mount Edgecumbe, the Hoe, and Mount Batten, were not continuous land, though seen at the distance of not more than three miles? Nay, to descend to a still more familiar instance of the utter impossibility of ascertaining the continuity of land seen at a distance, let us suppose, as a parallel case, an entire stranger to be place! in the middle of Pall-Mall; could he, we would ask, by any possibility, discover that, at one end of the street there were two opening's, and at the other end one, all of them wider than the street itself? How then can Captain Ross pretend to say what openings there might or might not be at the distance of fifty miles! But those extraordinay powers of vision, which, at that distance, could discover a little driblet of a river falling into Barrow's Bay, may pretend to any thing!
Not satisfied with blocking up Lancaster Sound with Croker's Mountains, and Cape Rosamond—mountains in nubibus, and Cape fly-away—Captain Ross calls in aid ' a continuity of ice, at the distance of seven miles, extending from one side of the bay to the other, between the nearest cape to the north, which he named after Sir George Warrender, and that to the south, which was named after Viscount Castlereagh.' In his 'special chart,' however, Cape Warrender is not by many miles the nearest cape to the Isabella; it is Cape Osborn; from which, and not from Cape Warrender, the wall of ice is made to extend. We notice this as no very important mistake, but it marks, in connection with other discrepancies, the loose manner in which matters are treated, the only value of which consists in their accuracy. For instance, on comparing the view of Sir James Lancaster's Sound, 'as seen from the Isabella at 3 P. M.,' (which, by the way, takes in, what could not possibly be taken in by the eye, one half of the whole circumference of the horizon,) with the ' special chart,' the points of land in the latter are so misplaced as to be wholly irreconcileable with the former; besides, Cape Castlereagh and Cape Warrender, one about forty, the other thirty miles distant, are represented in the view as close at hand. The conclusion we would draw from these disagreements is, that, neither the *. view' nor the ' special chart,' was made on the spot, but both awkwardly put together afterwards, to support that which they have actually overthrown.
There is another and a still more important disagreement between the ' special chart' and the text. This ' continuity of ice,' which, in the latter, is stated to have been seven miles from the ship, is, in the former, laid down at fourteen miles. Seven or
g2 fourteen, fourteen, however, Captain Ross asserts that he saw it—-extending 'from one side of the bay to the other;' that is to say, according to the ' special chart,' he saw it at the distance of twenty English miles from the ship to Cape Osborn, and forty miles from the ship to Cape Castlereagh. We have too great a respect for Captain Ross to doubt his word, though we may be permitted to doubt his strength of sight; we shall not therefore assert positively that he did not see it: but, where there is an absolute physical impossibility, we may venture to say, without offence, that he could nut see it. This is a point easily settled. The usual thickness of a floe, or field of ice, is (as we have already observed) from one to three feet above the surface of the sea, but we will give him six feet. Now every midshipman knows from his 'Hamilton Moore,' that an object of six feet above the surface can be seen barely nine miles, the height of the eye being twenty feet; from the same elevation of the eye, an object, to be seen at the distance of forty miles, would require to be more than a thousand feet above the surface. We submit, therefore, that we are warranted in saying, that Captain Ross could not see this ice, unless he can prove that it extended in a wall of a thousand feet high.
Captain Ross, we understand, complains of imperfect vision; this should naturally have increased his anxiety to correct or confirm his own observations by the testimony of his officers, especially by that of his first lieutenant, or of Mr. Bushnan who draws his charts and views of the land—and to corroborate those doubtful circumstances which crushed the hopes that this ' magnificent inlet,' as Captain Sabine calls it, had inspired; and which its position, magnitude, and enormous depth, together with the high temperature of the water, and the total absence of ice as far as the ships had ascended, were so well calculated to cherish. But there is another reason why Captain Ross should have been desirous of the testimony of his officers to the existence of those mountains and that wall of ice which put an end to all their expectations. It appears from his own account, that the impression made on the eye, by viewing objects at a distance in those high latitudes, was exceedingly fallacious: this, surely, ought to have inspired a high degree of caution, and to have made Captain Ross particularly suspicious of appearances in the present instance.* "The
* The following extract and sketch from Mr. Parry's private journal of the two lucklets days in Sir Jumes Lancaster's Sound hare been sent to us by a friend of that officer.
'30th August. The inlet we saw last night answers the description of Sir James Lancaster's Sound very well, as far as a tolerably accurate latitude goes, but we hove not jet seen the toMenofitj all on board are very anxious, and the crow's nest has been
'Tbe objects on the horizon,' he says, 'were often most wonderfully raised by the powers of refraction, while others, at a short distance from them, were as much sunk; these objects were continually varying in shape; the ice had sometimes the appearance of an immense wall on the horizon, [the thousand feet wall, for instance,] with here and there a space resembling a breach in it; icebergs, and even small
frequently visited this afternoon. The swell comes from the N. W. (compass—that is S. S. W. true,) and continues just as it does in the ocean. It is impossible to remark this circumstance, without feeling a hope that it may be caused by this inlet being a passage into a sea to the westward of it. Here Baffin's " hope of a passage began to be less every day more than another;" here, on the contrary, mine begins to be strong. The swell continues from about N. W. At eight, I set the land, from the crow's nest, very clearly as tlie sun was getting down. Temperature of air 34°, of the water 36°.
'31st August. At noon, temperature of air 37°, of water 36°. Is this continuance of increased temperature of the sea to be considered as a good omen for us, or is it merely to be attributed to the total absence of all ice? We are, of course, disposed to incline to the former of these opinions. We continued to run with all the sail we could press upon the ship, the Isabella having shortened sail for us to come up. I never wished so much that the Alexander was a better sailer; for this inlet looks more and more promising. At one P. M. the weather being more clear for a few minutes, we saw something like a piece of high land N. by W. (compass). At three, the Isabella'tacked bearing from us N. E. (compass) distant three or four miles. At 3. 40. we tacked, having joined the Commodore. Temperature of air 35f°, of the water 36°.'
The following extract is from Mr. Fisher's journal.
'Not any ice was to be seen in any direction; and at seven o'clock, the weather being remarkably fine and clear, land was not to be discerned between N. 21° W. and N. 44° K. At this time our distance from the northern land was estimated at seven or eight leagues, and from the southern six or seven leagues; but, alas ! the sanguine hopes aud high expectations excited by this promising appearance of things were but of short duration, for about three o'clock in the afternoon, the Isabella tacked, very much to our surprize indeed, as we could not see any thing like laud at the bottom of the inlets nor was the weather well calculated at the time for seeing any object at a great distance, it being somewhat hazy. When she tacked, the Isabella was about three or four miles (not eight} a head of us.'—Voyage of Discovery, tje.
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