Imágenes de página

dous effect on the form of the we approached the limit of the land. It is impossible to tell cloud-cap that grows like a where ice underlies the piles of mushroom out of Deception, an rubbish, and where is dry amazing vision leaped into the moraine, till the whole comes broadening belt of blue sky down to the water's edge, and that lay along the horizon, a is there exposed in section. pile of frozen clouds, borrowing Here the two materials are all his delicate tints from the strangely intermingled. The lately-risen sun. On the charts ice is banded with lines of it is given a position and the sand, in one place swelling in name of Smith Island, but I lenticular masses, in another do not believe it to be real ; dying out, and everywhere it is like nothing earthly. Every highly contorted, looking for all fine day and all days were

— the world like a cliff of gneiss. fine-while we were in these When the glacial period closes, waters that wonderful appariwhat strange patterns will be tion hung in the sky over us ; formed by the residual sands; and it was the last, as well as what a puzzle to those who the first, sight we had of things have not seen them in the very much better than the making! An interesting island South Shetlands. to the geologist, but fearfully For we were going to pass depressing as spectacle. through Belgica Straits, beRound the gloomy lake stand tween Graham Land and the as it were vast pithead banks, Palmer Archipelago, and there varied by patches of dirty snow, is nothing in the world more all black - and - white except beautiful than the mountains where some reddish spikes stand that border that passage. Here out like ruined engine-houses at sea-level in the Antarctic built of cheap brick. You gets atmospheric effects cannot see the clean snows of unknown at the greater heights the heights, you cannot see from which one sees the Alps blue sky; a canopy of cloud (I maintain that in Switzerland presses down.

You cannot one should be blindfolded till look out on sunlight and col- one is nine thousand feet up) ; our, the breach in the prison and I shall always think the walls is too narrow. It is the latter crude in colour and harsh abomination of ugliness.

in line after the soft shades of Such are all recently volcanic the Solvay Range and the districts; but the whole of the golden light of Graham Land. Dependency is not so new, for And there was ice, floating it comprises Graham Land and in, reflected in, the glassy all that part of Antarctica as water ; ahead and to starfar as the South Pole. In this board dazzling white on a pool direction we continued, fol- of bright blue ; to port and lowed out of harbour by the astern pale green against a sea customary snowstorm. But as of cream ; some bergs square,


[ocr errors]

some round, and some arched ably and serenely as if they and pinnacled fantastically. were in Blacksod Bay.

But I preferred the moun- But in our farthest port of tains. These were not the old call there was trouble. Breeze familiar friends; they also were Harbour looks like a threat of new to me. Down the steep trouble ; and only one man is slopes, through mazes of cre- crazy enough to take a big vasses, over stupendous falls ship into it. The trouble was the ice kept its purity un- that a very much bigger icesullied by mud or moraine ; berg had come in after her and and where it broke into the threatened to carry away her sea in cliffs three hundred feet moorings and push her into a high, it did not show a speck cul-de-sac where she might be from top to bottom-a contrast stuck for the winter. One of to the dirty snouts of Alpine her catchers was steaming up glaciers. Again, it was new against it to try and push it to see nine thousand feet of out of the way ; but as it was rock and snow rising from the a thousand times her weight, level of the straits, in which the effects were not conspicuous. at times the floes became so I had arranged for an excurnumerous that one had almost sion up the glacier here, but the illusion of a huge glacier that confounded iceberg disfilling a flat valley, unlike the appointed me. At any moment tilted slopes which merge grad- it might change its front and nally into a face, becoming only attack us instead of the factory more steeply tilted.

ship, so we were under short A little farther on came an- notice for steam. Meanwhile other type of scenery, this a the captain of that vessel took more thoroughly Antarctic type. me for a trip round the coast The high mountains retreated in his launch. I would have behind flattened domes of nevé; given up as many mountain the only rocks seen were such ascents for those three hours ; as, rising from the water, were mountains I may climb again, too sharp to support the crumb- but never shall I have such an ling and top-heavy snow-cap intimate acquaintance with icethat covered all the more sub- bergs. We sported round them, stantial land. As we progressed we darted across them in a the rocks became more numer- swirl of pale green water beous; we were among a group tween their shining pinnacles ; of small islands where, tucked we squeezed between rocks red, into impossible creeks between grey, and yellow, and ice-cliffs impending ice-cliffs (but in this white and blue. We squeezed, cold climate they do not fall as I think, rather imprudently often as one would think), were near the latter. One berg, a steamers of eight or ten thou- huge tricuspid affair, had, as sand tons, cutting in and boil- is their manner, its towers set ing down whales as comfort- upon its very edge, and sadly undermined by the sea ; but

but catcher, steadies the helm, and one underestimates the tough- then strolls off the bridge toness of southern ice.

wards the gun platform. On This fairyland, for so it was, the fore-deck he passes the

I did not see at night, when its look-out man, who has just inhabitants adopt their proper come down from the crow's form ; by day I believe they nest, and borrows a fill of change themselves into pen- tobacco from him. The latter guins. I had seen penguins goes to the wheel, if there is before, but did not know their no one already there. Meanorigin.

while spectators emerge from I came back to port to find various parts of the ship. two more catchers reinforcing When all these adjustments the push-party at the iceberg, have been made, the whale and with some help from the blows again, right ahead, and tide actually moving it clear of a hundred yards away. The the parent ship. These catchers helm is shifted a little, and the are most efficient little vessels, engines rung slow, the gunner fast, handy, perfectly equipped, looks for a convenient lee to and of necessity kept in first- light his pipe in, then mounts class order, for a chipped the platform and casts loose the propeller, a loose rudder-head, gun. Nobody runs about or or a slack bearing would give shouts, the few orders are given the alarm as they steal on their in an undertone. quarry. They are small enough It seems an age of waiting to turn and twist in the chase, till we see a vague greyness yet large enough to keep the in the blue sea ahead of us. sea in any weather. It is hard The helmsman gives a little to understand how a steam- sheer to bring the target well boat some 110 feet long and out on the bow and expose her of 130 tons can get within broadside ; then the waters twenty yards of a whale, for are parted and a flat head that is about as far as one can emerges ; the great nostrils trust the harpoon gun, but a follow, throwing a jet of vapour whale sighted is generally a into the air, and sink again. whale killed. I do not know An interminable length of how it is done, though I have curved back rolls by, the gunner seen the performance. This is keeps his sights on the waterhow it appears to the spectator. line, and not till half the whale

Wo raise a spout, perhaps a has passed does he fire. And mile away. The whale usually that is the end of her! blows two or three times in Of course, it is not always quick succession before going so easy. In bad weather the down again for ten minutes or gun platform must be a very so,

thus one can judge in unhealthy spot, nor could one what direction she is travelling. trace the whale's movements so The gunner, the captain of the well in broken water. Some

whales, moreover, are perverse, I did not go so far south to and do not steer a steady see whaling, for that one can course. Our second was an do as well at home. I went to expert in the art of zigzagging, see ice—ice compacting into and it was some time before glaciers ; ice falling in ice-falls ; the gunner got the run of her ice forming lofty sea-cliffs ; ice maneuvres. In the end it breaking off those cliffs into was a lucky shot, at extreme icebergs; and, above all, the range, that got us fast.

marvellous blue ice in the cavi. In the head of the harpoon ties of those floating mountains is a bursting charge fired by which are only the remnant a time-fuse, and a close shot, of the huge islands that have well directed, will scatter scrap- drifted up from the far Antiron all through the whale's arctic. Or, if you like, bevitals and kill her instantane- cause anybody who does anyously. Our forlorn hope got thing nowadays without an home, but only crippled her, ostensibly commercial motive and she set off on the surface is suspect, I went to prospect with our ship in tow.

for an anchorage in the Belgica Then we saw the wonderful Straits in which to moor that gear that makes steam whaling visionary ship which will carry possible. Between the harpoon a select party of mountaineers and the winch the line is played to a place where the snow is by a tremendous battery of always in good condition for coiled springs fitted in the hold. walking or ski-running; where Their effective extension is some avalanches are almost unknown thirty feet, through which the and séracs take a year to fall; strain increases to fifteen tons, where the weather is always the limit of safety of the rope. fine and no winds ever blow; With such fishing-tackle the and where, if any one wants to whale, once fast, has a poor desert the honest ice for acrochance. We hauled up along- batic feats on rock, he can get side and gave her another shot as good steep granite as at that settled her.

Chamonix. All the interest of modern I fear that I have not enough whaling lies in the stalking; information to float the affair. I should imagine that it re- Mail steamers cannot be at quires more skill and knowledge the same time surveying ships, to bring a steam-vessel into and the exigencies of trade position for discharging a gun took me away all too soon, with a limited arc of training back to stormy Stanley. And than to get fast with a harpoon as Stanley was fearful bathos thrown in any direction from after the Solvay Mountains, I any one of three or four small lost no time in getting my ship boats. The subsequent pro- ready for sea and my papers ceedings are merely butchery. made out for Dublin.



SINCE French cookery is the spect the French have always best in Europe, the classics of studiously qualified for their gastronomy belong naturally duty as hosts. Also, they have to French literature; and per- constantly taken the view of haps English readers do not the old noble who dressed ceresufficiently realise that such monially when he dined alone, works exist and are delightful saying that no more respected reading — first, because, like guest sat at his table. But books on sport, they are re- with the French this self-respect cords of enjoyment. But eat- expressed itself in the dinner ing covers a larger field in life rather than in the dress. than fishing, hunting, golf, or France's supremacy in the even gardening; the history gastronomic art is comparaof the table is closely con- tively recent. Cooks and cooknected with the history of ery perished in the dark ages civilisation. “ Tell me what except along the Mediterranean, you eat, and I will tell you where civilisation was oldest ; what you are,” is an aphorism and at the Renaissance this in the chief of these classics, learning also had to be diffused and how you eat” is even from Italy. Still we know that more important to ascertain. the other arts blossomed with Man is not only gregarious, extraordinary speed and vigour but a social animal: nutrition, in France when the impulse the first animal need, links came, and it is hard to believe itself rapidly with necessities that a French omelette of the for companionship that involve fifteenth century was not alhis spirit ; and ultimately he ready all that omelette shows himself for what he is should be. Yet maybe it lacked in the act of eating and of one thing—pepper. Cookery, assisting others to eat. Hos- like war, has developed out of pitality is one of the pleasantest knowledge in modern times. expressions of humanity, and Pepper certainly existed in the the French traditional quality early Middle Ages, but it was of politeness is never

is never more scarce, like all the spices, till admirably displayed than in the mariner's

compass and the care which they constantly Columbus and the rest brought take to devise entertainment strange new material from for a guest. To plan a good across the ocean.

Coffee was repast you must be able to offered for sale in Paris first appreciate it, and to appreciate at the Foire de St Germain in you must enjoy; in this re- 1670. Liqueurs were only in


« AnteriorContinuar »