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ed, and the leaves dropt from the trees. Neither rain nor dew fell for several months; and, on the Continent, prayers were offered up in all the churches to implore the bounty
of refreshing showers. In 1748, the summer was again very warm. In 1754, it was likewise extremely warm. The years 1760 and 1761 were both of them remarkably hot;
and so was the In 1774, it was excessively hot and dry. Both the years 1778 and 1779 were warm and very dry. The year 1788 was also
hot and dry; and of the same character was 1811, famous for its excellent vintage, and
distinguished by the appearance of a brilliant comet. On glancing over these slight notices, it is obvious that no material change has taken place for the last thousand years in the climate of Europe. But we may conjecture, from the facts produced, that it has gradually acquired rather a milder character, at least its excessive severity appears, on the whole, to be of rarer occurrence. The weather seems not to affect any precise course of succession, although two or more years of remarkable heat or cold often follow in a cluster. Yet there can be no doubt, that series of atmospheric changes, however complicated and perplexing, are as determinate in their nature, as the revolutions of the celestial bodies. When the science of meteorology is more adyanced, we shall, perhaps, by discovering a glimpse of those vast cycles, which result from the varied aspects of the sun, combined with the feebler influence of the moon, be at length enabled to predict, with some degree of probability, the condition of future seasons. The intermediate period of nine years, or the semi-revolution nearly of the lunar nodes and apogee, proposed by Toaldo, seems not to be altogether destitute of foundation. Thus, of the years remarkably cold, 1622 was succeeded, after the interval of four periods, or 36 years, by 1658, whose severity lasted through the following year. The same interval brings us to 1695, and five periods more extends to 1740, a very famous cold year; three periods now come down to 1767, nine years more to 1776, and eighteen years more to 1794, the cold continuing through 1795. Of the hot years, it may be observed that four periods of nine years extend from 1616 to 1652, and three such again to 1679. From 1701 to 1718, there was an interval of 17 years, or very nearly two periods, while three periods reach to 1745, another period to 1754, and one more falls on 1763; and from 1779 to 178 %, there are just nine years.
The present year would, therefore, correspond to 1701, 1719, and .1746, and consequently very nearly to 1718. Again, the years 1784, 1793, 1802 and 1811, at the intervals of successive periods, were all of them remarkably warm.
If the climate had undergone any real change in the more temperate parts of Europe, a corresponding alteration, with very distinct features, must inevitably have taken place in the Arctic regions. But a dispassionate inquiry discovers no circumstances which at all clearly point at such a conclusion. On this head, we may readily satisfy ourselves, by a short retrospect of the principal facts which have been recorded by voyagers.
Greenland, in its position and general outline, appears to resemble the vast promontory of South America. From Cape Farewell, a small island, divided from the shore by a narrow inlet called Staaten Hoek, in the latitude of 60°, it stretches, in a northwesterly direction, about 200 miles to Cape Desolation, and then nearly northwards to Good Haven, in latitude 65°, where it inclines nearly a point towards the east, as far as the island of Disco, which occupies a spacious bay, between the latitudes of 67o and 71°, in Davis's Strait. Thence the continent extends almost due north, beyond the latitude of 76°, till it is lost in the unexplored recesses of Baffin's Bay. On the other side, Greenland stretches about north-north-east 300 miles, but with a great sinuosity, till nearly opposite to Iceland, in the latitude of 64, and now advances almost north-east, to the latitude of 75°, when, suddenly bending to the north, it holds this direction beyond Spitzbergen and the latitude of 80°. The coast is everywhere bold and rocky, like that of Norway; and the interior of the country consists of clustering lofty mountains, covered with eternal snows. But the western side, which forms Davis's Strait, is indented with numerous bights, creeks, and fiords or firths, which, for the space of two or three months each year, look verdant, and yield tolerable pasturage. The eastern shore, again, which properly bounds the Greenland seas, can rarely be approached by the whalers, as the accumulated stream of ice, which, in summer, is constantly drifting from the northeast, creates a formidable barrier. The position of this icy barrier, though nearly parallel to the land, is not absolutely fixed, but varies within certain limits in different years.
In Davis's Strait, the whalers generally resort to Disco Bay, or push farther north ; sometiries as far as the latitude of 76° to the variable margin of the great icy continent. On the other side of Greenland, about the meridian of eight degrees east from Greenwich, the ice, in warm seasons, retires to the latitude of 80°, beyond Hackluyt’s Headland, at the extremity of Spitzbergen ; while, at other times, it advances as far south, on the same line, as the latitude of 70, enveloping the whole of that island, but forming below it a wide bay, called the Whale-fisher's Bight, on the parallel of Bear Island. The former are called open, and the latter close, seasons. In open seasons, the ships employed in these fisheries find a channel from 20 to 50 leagues wide, through which they shoot forward along the shores of Spitzbergen, till they reach the latitude of 78° or 79', where the whales are most abundant. The chase of whales seldom lasts above two months, commencing generally at the end of April, and terminating with June, when those huge animals disappear, and the prevalence of dense fogs renders the navigation very dangerous. Mr Scoresby thinks it were better if our Greenland ships, like the Dutch and other foreigners, began their voyage somewhat later than has become the practice. In close seasons, the hardy navigator is obliged, with imminent peril and hazard, to impel his ship, by boring under a press of sail, and assisted by ropes and saws, through the drift ice which borders the great barrier, endeavouring to follow every vein of water that runs nearly in the required direction. If he fail in this attempt, he must forego the chance of a profitable voyage, and content himself with the humbler pursuit of catching seals.
The space over which the line of ice may be supposed to os. cillate in the Greenland seas, extends 1400 miles from Cape Farewell, to 200 miles beyond Jan Mayen's island, which it includes, and has a mean breadth of about 80 miles. Such is the extent of the mere surplus ice formed and dissolved from year to year,-exceeding the whole surface of Great Britain. The quantity melted or liberated during these last two years, hence, bears no very considerable proportion to the ordinary fluctuating mass. It is evident, therefore, that, whatever may be the casual variations of the frozen expanse, no mighty alteration has yet taken place in the climate and condition of the Arc
If we compare the journals of former navigators, we shall be convinced, that all the changes of the polar ice are periodical, and are again repeated at no very distant intervals of time. We may pass over the pretensions of some Dutch navigators, who alleged that they had been carried, by winds or currents, as far north as the latitude of 88°, or even that of 89° 40', and consequently only 20 miles from the Pole; since their estimate, at all times rude, from observations with the fore staff, was then founded on mere dead reckoning, after a continuation of foggy weather. Davis, in 1587, ascended, in the Strait which deservedly bears his name, to the latitude of 72° 12', where he found the variation of the compass to be 82° west,
or nearly the same as at present. In 1616, Baffin advanced, in the same quarter, as high as the latitude of 78 degrees. The same skilful navigator had, two years before, penetrated in the Greenland seas, to the latitude of 8i', and seen land as high as that of 82°, lying to the north-east of Spitzbergen. But it is mortifying to remark how little progress has been made in geographical discovery since those early and intrepid adventurers explored the Arctic regions with their humble barks, which seldom exceeded the size of fifty tons. We must pass over a very long interval, to obtain authentic information. In 1751, Captain M‘Callam, whom Mr Barrington calls a scientific seaman, sailed, without obstruction, from Hackluyt's Headland, as high as the latitude of 83%, where he found an open sea; and, the weather being fine, nothing hindered him from proceeding farther, but his responsibility to its owners for the safety of the ship. Captain Wilson, about the end of June 1754, having traversed floating ice, from the latitude of 74° to 81°, at last found the sea quite clear as far as he could descry; and he advanced to the latitude of 83°, till, not meeting with any whales, and beginning to apprehend some danger, he shaped back his course. At this very time, Captain Guy, after four days of foggy weather, was likewise carried to the same point. The Polar seas, at this period, must indeed have been remarkably open; for one of the most extraordinary and best authenticated voyages was performed in 1754 by Mr Stephens, a very skilful and accurate observer, whose testimony is put beyond all manner of doubt, by the cool judgment of the late astronomer-royal, Dr Maskelyne. This navigator informed him, that, about the end of May, he was driven off Spitzbergen by a southerly wind, which blew for several days, till he had reached the latitude of 841°; and that, in the whole of this run, he met with little ice and no drift wood, and did not find the cold to be anywise excessive. In different subsequent years, the Greenland whalers have advanced to the latitude of 81 or 82 degrees. This was accomplished even in 1766; although, according to Kerguelin, the whole space between Iceland and the opposite coast was then frozen over. The year 1773, or that in which Captain Phipps performed his voyage, was still more favourable for approaching towards the North Pole. In 1806, the elder Mr Scoresby ascended to the latitude of 81° 50'; but, in the following year, he could not proceed farther than the parallel of 781°. In 1811, the higher latitudes were again accessible; and, after a short interval, the summers of 1815, 1816, and 1817, are represented as open VOL. XXX. XO. 59.
seasons; though none of the whalers have now penetrated so far into the north as had been done in
particularly in 1754.
In this plain statement, we certainly can perceive no decided symptoms of any general or progressive tendency towards a dissolution of the Polar ice. The frozen border alters its position from one year to another, and probably returns again to the same limits after certain short periods of time. Such fluctuations are analogous to the incessant changes which affect the state of the weather in the more temperate regions. The complex system of winds moulds the climate, and varies the features of the seasons over the globe. It is a common remark of those who frequent the Polar seas, that they find always the least obstruction from ice when the preceding winter has been very severe in the more southern latitudes. In the year 1766, though the frost had proved most intense through the rest of Europe, the whalers, as we have seen, reached a high latitude: And, not to multiply instances, the three last seasons, which have been reckoned very open, have succeeded to winters notoriously cold and protracted. Nor is it difficult to discern the reason of this seeming paradox; for our severe winters are occasioned by the prevalence of northerly winds, which must arrive at the Polar seas from the south, and consequently transport so much warmth to them as may check the usual rigour of the frost.
The main argument, however, brought to prove the deterioration of the Arctic climate, is drawn from the supposed existence of a colony, which had once flourished on the eastern coast of Greenland, but has, for several centuries, become extinct, all access to its remains being at length completely barred by the accumulation of ice. This tale, which seems to have owed its birth to Torfæus the historian of Norway, has, perhaps froin its paradoxical air, obtained very general credence, Yet, a sober examination of the early Sagas, or northern chronicles, so full of wonder and fable, will show that there is no solid reason for entertaining such a notion, or believing that the first settlement of Greenland was made on the east side of the continent. The whole contexture of the original narrative indicates the very opposite conclusion.
After the North had ceased to send forth her numerous swarms upon the fertile provinces of the Roman empire, the Scandinavian nations, prompted by their peculiar situation, betook themselves to a life of maritime adventure. Those bold and hardy pirates visited every sea, and pillaged, for a course of near three hundred years, all the coasts of Eu