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THE NORTH-WEST PASSAGE.
Sir James Ross and the expedition under his command, returned in November last from their unsuccessful attempt to discover Sir John Franklin, whose melancholy fate, though not yet confirmed, can scarcely be doubted. His account of their winter quarters in the Polar Sea will probably interest our readers.
In September 1848, the ships were moored abreast each other, about 200 yards apart. As soon as they were frozen in, they were housed over from the forecastle to the mizen-mast, and the anchors were weighed and stowed.
The crews then commenced building a wall of snow, seven feet high from one ship to the other, to facilitate communication; and the next thing was the erecting of an observatory for each ship for magnetic observations. They were composed entirely of snow, with plates of ice for the windows. They were six feet high inside, and built of snow bricks one foot thick and two feet long, cut out with a cutlass and well squared and trimmed; these little houses displaying tasteful, varied, and in some instances, fantastic forms of architecture. The wall of communication required great attention, from the accumulation of snow.
The sun was not seen from the 9th of November until the 9th of February from the ship, but from the top of a hill, N.E. Cape Leopold, a sight was caught of him so early as the 26th of January. During the long evenings, from October till May, schools were formed along the midship part of the lower decks, which were well attended by the young men, who were instructed in reading, writing, and arithmetic on board the Enterprise by the clerk; and a youngster from Greenwich School, named Grunsell, second class volunteer, taught the pupils navigation. Many of the scholars made great progress in their studies during the six months. Ample time vras allowed to the crews of both ships to meet each other; and games of foot-ball and other exercises relieved the monotony which surrounded them.
During the whole of that dreary winter the only other living animals seen were the white foxes. These were not allowed to be shot, but as many were taken alive as could be trapped, and about forty were then sent away with copper collars round their necks, upon which was stamped the names of the ships and the localities of the depots of provisions, &c. As it was well known that these foxes travel an immense distance, this measure was resorted to with the view of making them the possible medium of acquainting the missing parties with the means taken for their relief and succour. The foxes were caught in a barrel converted into a door-trap; and to show the intensity of the cold it may be stated that the poor little animals, in endeavoring to escape, often attempted to gnaw the iron bars, when, in many cases their tongues adhered to the iron and were frozen off, when they were killed from motives of humanity. The foxes were facetiously denominated "Twopenny Postmen."
The thermometer at this time was about 15° below zero; but the Sylvester stove apparatus, which answered admirably well, always kept the lower decks at a temperature of 55 and 60 degrees.
The crews during the winter were employed in making tools and portable apparatus for travelling in the spring, and some parties were employed in laying down gravel on the ice, to facilitate the cutting of the passage out of the ships from the harbour at the proper season. The gravel, which was taken from the shore on sledges, was laid so as to absorb the sun's rays, which, acting upon the ice, predisposed it to rot and to melt away. This work very much assisted the arduous task of cutting a canal out of the harbour of 50 feet wide, and two miles and a half long. These and other exercises during winter somewhat acclimated the men, and inured them to sustain the privations which they subsequently encountered in the searching expeditions. All around Leopold Harbour nothing was seen but snow rocks 1,100 feet high, bounded on each side, and a narrow low ridge enclosed the harbour northward. There were very few icebergs seen from this point.
In the ensuing spring, parties were formed to travel across the ice in quest of the unfortunate expedition of Sir J. Franklin. In the course of one of these journies, the whole party were charged by an immense bear. Bruin walked boldly up to them, and was only checked in his advance by an attempt to fire at him. Of the entire number of guns levelled, however, the only fire-arm that went off was Lieut. M'Clintock's. The ball took effect, but the old gentleman did not seem to care much about it; he merely scratched his head with his paw, stopped within fifteen yards, and then turned his back upon them and walked off, with a most contemptuous air. The track of blood which marked his retirement in the snow, showed that he was wounded. The fatigue party proceeded just as far as the eastern side of Cape Rennell, about 40 miles from the ships, and returned, after supplying the other party with their stock of provisions.
Another party witnessed a very natural, and at the same time an easy mode of descent from a height of about seven hundred feet. A bear squatted himself down on his hams, slid from top to bottom at railway speed, steadying himself with great judgment by his paws in his rapid descent.
By dint of severe labor, after the failing of all these attempts, with baffling winds and thick weather, the ships made the best of their way southward, passing an immense multitude of gigantic icebergs, varying from one hundred to three hundred feet high, and from a quarter to half a mile in length.
These tremendous bergs often came between and threatened the ships with destruction, and were a source of perpetual harass, exciting much apprehension from their color, or rather colorless appearance. It was indeed, a task of no ordinary skill and ability sometimes to steer clear of them. On the 18th they rounded Cape Farewell and thence had a good passage with strong but westerly gales, till they made the Orkneys on the 29th October last, and Scarborough on the 3rd of November.
In the course of the voyage there were shot three bears, two or three seals, many swans, geese, and ducks, and more than 3,000 looms.
THE MEEKNESS AND GENTLENESS OF CHRIST. "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you."—Ephesians iv. 31. Is there in the holy gospel a precept too much? Is there something men need not give heed to?
It should seem so; for there are Christians, not a few, who would not for conscience sake break the law that bids them not to profane the Sabbath or to steal, and yet scarcely perceive the necessity of controlling their tempers in obedience to these oft repeated precepts. But he who forbade the one, commands the other. Kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering —where are we to find these things? Nay, we do not seem to be quite sure whether they be virtues or not. Heathens did not think them so; they had names of contempt for them. But can it be, that Christians read their Bible, and perceive not how positively it forbids the angry disputes, the contentious words, that pass in our families? The impatience of temper that despoils us of our bosom's peace, and discomposes all around us —the harsh reproof and bitter invective that in checking the faults of another, indulge a far greater of our own—the wordy disputes over things of no moment—the bitter raillery, and cutting sarcasm, and whispered sneer—are these the language of meekness and forbearance? Or is there no necessity to regard these precepts of our God? It should seem that one or other were the case: since even among those who love their God. ay, and love each other, too, we scarce may listen to other language. Too well, alas! we are aware what nature urges and how self impels. But do we know that every angry word is a breach of God's commandment—that every impatient word, every contentions word, every clamorous and reproachful word, is a breach of his commandment? and knowing this, do we feel them to be sins, and as such regret and endeavor to refrain from them? Or are we indulging ourselves in dispute as a thing of no moment; upholding our own selfishness in bitter contest with the selfishness of all about us; arguing, cavilling, contending, and unmindful withal that these arc things our God has spoken from heaven to forbid; do we deem them no sins? Let us consider—for either we are mistaken or God is so. Wo think it well to contend for our rights, to recriminate for every slight offence, or take umbrage for no offence at all. God bids that we be forbearing, slow to anger, meek, gentle, and unwilling to contend—not clamorous and ready to dispute. Of this we may be sure—that whatever be the occasion, whatever the excuse, we break these precepts every time we utter a word, of which the intention is to excite a painful feeling in the bosom of another.—Mrs. Wilson, late Caroline Fry.
"Then they that feared the Lord spoke often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard it; and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. " — Malacui ill. 16
Heard what? Is there anything on earth which an ear like his, attuned to heavenly harmony, wont to be fed on the grateful tones of spotless angels and saints immortalised, can like to listen to?
It was not to the sound of what men call wit and wisdom that he hearkened. The lofty eloquence that holds assembled crowds in mute suspension on its magic flow, is no more to bim than the vain babbling of the summer brook. The brilliant play of fancy that wings the uncounted hours, and hides the stern realities of life behind its golden tissue, is no more to him than the charm which the deaf adder heareth not. The learned dispute, the fine drawn argument, the impassioned controversy, he despises as the prating of babes. He who finds folly in his immaculate angels, well might smile to hear us so proudly contentious in our mistakes. And then the unholy jest of folly, and the useless chatter of idleness, and the slander that scatters poison, and heeds not where it falls, and the profaneness and the mockery—oh! when he hears all this, it is with averted head; he is not pleased to hearken. That which the High and Holy One of heaven deigns to stoop down and listen to, is that which man despises and distastes. It is when they who fear him speak one to another—in private, unheard of the multitude: the unapplauded whisper—not with embellishments of speech and brilliant flow of words but with a feeling that makes many words impossible. One to another—not in a talkative profession that seeks publicity, and pours forth all the bosom ever felt, and more, to whomsoever wills to listen—but the heartfelt, deepfelt expression of trembling piety, that almost fears to be heard even by the ear it speaks to: like the still sentinel, who, treading his cautious rounds, whispers a word of caution or encouragement to him that watches near him, yet almost starts to hear the silence broken. 'Tis then, when there are few on earth to approve or to applaud, that one in heaven hearkens. He hears with gracious smile his own scarce whispered name, from lips that feel themselves unworthy to pronounce it; he writes them