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VOYAGE TO REPULSE BAY;
last voyages, at the rate of three and four miles per hour Now, upon the other side of America, all authors, — all voyagers —from Clerke down to Vasillieff—agree, that a current is constantly found setting to the north, north-east, and east-northeast. Captain Vasillieff found the current set so strong after he had got thirty miles round Icy Cape that he was afraid to continue, lest he should not be able to get back, and considering it unsafe with his present stock of provisions to winter on the north coast of America. Such being the indubitable fact, of the current setting from the Pacific into the Polar Sea, by way of Behring's Straits, as well as a current from the Polar Sea into the Atlantic Ocean by way of Baffin's Baywhy do we oppose the stream? Is it not more reasonable that a ship may do that with a favourable current which she cannot do in an opposing flood 1 Who would ever think of beating a ship from Port-Royal, Jamaica, to the island of Antigua, in the line of middle latitude between these islands, against a perpetual trade-wind and westerly current? Yet our persevering efforts to find a north-west, in preference to a north-east passage round America, is scarcely less unseamanlike. It is almost miraculous how our northern expeditions have so often escaped being dashed to pieces, crushed to atoms, or run down by ice-bergs, from their unnecessarily sailing in an opposing stream.
Having thus succinctly stated the argument in favour of a north-east navigation round America, we will turn to the narrative of the attempt to reach Repulse Bay through the Welcome.
Captain Lyon's adventure appears to have been intended as auxiliary to the grand exploratory expedition under captain Parry, and he was limited by his instructions to the examination of the eastern part of the north coast of North America, from the western shore of Melville Peninsula to Point Turnagain, where 'captain Franklin's late journey terminated. For this .'purpose the Griper gun-brig, of 180 tons, and a crew of forty-one men, was fitted out, with a liberal supply of warm clothing, provisions, instruments, sledges, and every necessary for the voyage. The Snap, surveying-vessel, was also ordered to accompany the Griper with additional stores, as far as Hudson's Straits, or Cape Chidley. It was intended the Griper should winter in Repulse Bay, and, in the spring of 1825, captain Lyon was to proceed across Melville Peninsula, and endeavour to trace the shores of the Polar Sea as far as the above-mentioned Point Turnagain.
; The-Griper, on the 10th of June, 1824,
dropped down to Greenhithe, •where professor Barlow came on board, and fitted his plate for correcting the errors of ihe compasses from the effects of local attraction. The Griper had no sooner entered salt water, than it was found she drew sixteen feet one inch abaft, and fifteen! feet ten inches forward, and with a heavy ground swell, owing to her great depth and sharpness, she pitched very deeply. On the 30th they arrived at Stromness, where captain Lyon went on shore to see some Druidical remains situated at Stenhouse, about six or seven miles from the town, and on the borders of an extensive lake, which communicates at high water with the sea. The first of these monuments consisted of three flat slabs of sandstone, standing upright, and from ten to fifteen feet in height. One entire slab lay flat on the ground, and had been intentionally thrown down by some inquisitive antiquary, to ascertain how deeply it had been embedded in the earth; but he was afterwards unable to replace it, to the no small mortification of the old wives of Orkney, who hold these ruins in great reverence.
Returning home,captain Lyon managed to ingratiate himself into the good graces of a venerable dame, who took him into her cabin, and spread before him a plentiful regale of roasted eggs, roasted potatoes, bannocks, butter and milk, while the good auld mon produced his "ain wee bottle," from which he poured some prime whiskey. The old gentleman styled himself a farmer, and had several acres under cultivation ; but the hut in which " Christy" and he lived was most miserable and dirty, having no light but through the smokehole in the roof. The costume of the Orkney patriarch consisted of a sort of patchwork of various colours, and he had completed the adornment of his outward man, by wearing a red wig, which had been cropped, or rather notched, over a dark shock head of hair, which peeped like a fancy fringe from beneath the boundaries of this superb toupee.
On the 3d of July, having taken on board two ponies, they again made sail, and ran out the Hoy Mouth fairly into the ocean. Nothing occurred in crossing the Atlantic more remarkable than occasional fogs, rain, and hazy weather, and the tedium arising out of the dull sailing of the Griper. On the 1st of August they descried the high and rugged coast of Labrador, with its immense valleys still partly covered with snow. On the 2d the crow's nest was fitted at the mast head, a boom foresail was also bent, and every preparation made for navigating amongst ice. Several berg* were passed, and, coming to a pack of decayed ice, the Snap, lb. better protection, followed in the wake of the Griper, On the 4th the two ships parted, with three cheers, the Snap, according to. her instructions, proceeding to Newfoundland, having previously shipped her stores on board captain Lyon's vessel.
VISIT FROM THE ESQUIMAUX.
. On the 12th captain Lyon was honoured with a visit, for the first time, from a party of Esquimaux of both sexes, to the number of oixty. The ladies were in raptures, and shouted with all their might, and their hosts were not so deficient in gallantry as to be silent on such a joyous occasion; moreover, the virtuosi on board were happy to observe their fair visitors wore immense mittens of delicate white hare-skin, trimmed in the palms with the jetty feathers of the breast of the dovekie. Their carriages, alias boats, being drawn on the ice—-Babel was let loose—and such a screaming and vociferation ensued for the space of two hours as cannot be described. When their ecstasies had subsided, business commenced; but we regret to say that these high personages did not evince such precise notions of mine and thine as might have been wished ; and one Esquimaux, Bill Stiantes, <tfter failing to rob the Captain of his handkerchief, attempted to carry off a bag of seaman's clothes ; for the retention of which, when detected, he made an obstinate resistance. The generality of the others behaved pretty well, and traded •fairly, each dame producing her wares 'from a neat little skin bag, which the men called a "ridicule." The eagerness for traffic was so great that two ladies actually disposed of their "nether garments," a piece of indecorum which capt. L. had never before witnessed. All parties having completed their exchanges, the Captain displayed to a select few his livestock—his pigs and ponies; the former of which, by their squeaking, appeared vastly •edifying to his visitors,—and the latter elicited a loud laugh and a shout, announcing the satisfaction of the natives at beholding two new species of tooktoo, (rein-deer.) We will not "harrow up" the feelings of our reader with detailing the tender endearments of the "parting scene, but hastily resume our narrative.
On the 25th the Griper arrived within sight of the high land at Cape Pembroke, with a long, low point running off at south-west. The compasses had now become quite useless, with the ship's head southerly, and that in particular, to which professor Barlow's plate was fitted, so powerless, that its north point stood wherever it was placed by the finger; but
with the ship's head northerly, they alt traversed again. This, however, benefited them little, for as their route lay to the south-west, they were without any other guidance than celestial bearings. While yet a mile from the beach, an Esquimaux was observed approaching them, seated on three inflated seal-skins, ingeniously connected by blown intestines, so that his vessel was extremely buoyant. He was astride upon one skin, while another of a larger site was secured on either side of it, so that he was placed in a kind of hollow. His legs, well furnished with seal-skin boots, were immersed nearly to the knee in water, and he rowed with a slender whalebone paddle, which was secured to his float by a thong. He exhibited some signs of fear on coming alongside, which were removed by a few presents.
It is really a curious study to contemplate human nature under different circumstances of existence. These poor Esquimaux had uo better cutting instruments than a rough piece of chipped flint, somewhat like a poplar leaf in form, clumsily lashed to a small bone handle, six inches in length. They received our knives in exchange with visible satisfaction, first eyeing the donor and then the knife, and at last uttering a long sighing "kooyenna," (thank you,) expressive of the deepest gratitude. Their huts are formed of badly dressed seal skins, very small, and full of holes, by which both wind and rain might enter in all directions. The floors, with the exception of the small space allotted for sleeping, were entirely strewed with salmon and their offal; and, from the absence of cooking utensils, it is probable the fish is generally eaten raw. They had storehouses built of rough slabs of limestone, rudely, but regularly piled up, and containing a quantity of split salmon, suspended by the tails in such a manner that no small animals could reach them. One of captain Lyon's companions appeared rather a poetical personage: he walked at a hurried pace, talked incessantly to himself, with his eyes fixed on the ground, occasionally elevating his voice, which had a very agreeable tone, to a most merry chant, having a hiccuping jerk at the end of each sentence. He would then for a moment appear to recover from his fit of inspiration, urge the Captain forward, and again relapse into his merry soliloquy. If capt. L. spoke, he answered with a lively " Hai!" but never waited or endeavoured to comprehend him, and again began chuckling to himself. From the short pronouncing of the language, it appeared to abound in monosyllables.
.♦ . . - THE CRISIS.
'By the 30th they were supposed to be Bear the entrance of the Welcome, and their noon latitude 62° 14' 38", and longitude 84° 29' 54", placed them ex* .actly on Southampton Island. Nature, as we haye already hinted, appears resolved these dreary regions shall. never be minutely explored, and every obstacle is opposed to prying curiosity; even the compasses refuse to perform their office; and it is one great difficulty, among many others the navigator encounters in these iiigh latitudes, that he is obliged to direct his course through an unknown tract by the uncertain observation of the heavenly bodies. From the extraordinary deviations of the compass at this time, they were obliged to steer by the pole-star.
On the lstof September the Griper came suddenly on a bank, when she was brought up with three bowers and a stream anchor in succession; but not before she had shoaled into five and a half fathoms' water. This was between eight and nine A. M., the ship pitching bows under, and a tremendous sea running. At noon the starboard bower anchor parted, but the others held. As there was every reason. to fear the falling of the tide, which was known to be from twelve to fifteen feet, and in that case the total destruction of the ship was inevitable, captain Lyon ordered the long boat to be hoisted out, and, with the four smaller ones, to be stored with arms and provisions. The officers drew lots for their respective boats, and the ship's company was stationed to them. Amid these ominous preparations, it was evident to all that the long boat was the only one which had the slightest chance of living under the lee of the ship, should she be wrecked; but every officer and man drew his lot with the greatest composure, although two of the boats would have been swamped the instant they -were lowered. "Yet such," says capt. L., "was the noble feeling of those around me, that had 1 ordered the boats in question to be manned, their crews would have entered them without a murmur." At three the tide had fallep to twenty-two feet, (only six more than the Griper drew,) aud the ship having been uplifted by a tremendous sea, struck with great violence the whole length of her keel. This was naturally conceived the forerunner of her. total wreck, and every one stood in readiness to take the boats and hang under her lee. She continued to strike with sufficient force to have burst any less fortified vessel, at intervals of a few minutes, whenever an unusually heavy sea passed them. And, as the water was so shallow, these might be • almost called breakers rather
than waves, for each, in passing, burst with great force over the gangways, aud, as every sea " topped," the decks were continually, and frequently deeply,flooded. AH hands, however, took some refreshment, for some had scarcely been below for twenty-four hours, aud capt. Lyon had not been in bed for three nights. They sat down in groups, and, sheltered from the wash of the sea by whatever they could find, some endeavoured to obtain a little sleep. "Never," says capt. L., "was witnessed a finer scene than on the deck of my littleship, when all liope of; life had left us. Noble as the character of the British sailor is always allowed to be in cases of danger, yet I did not believe it to be possible, that amongst forty-one persons.not oue repi ning should be uttered." At about six p. M. the rudder, which had already received some very heavy blows, rose, and broke up the after lockers; and this was the last severe shock the ship rer eeived. At dark, heavy rain fell, which was borne with patience; for it beat down the gale, and brought with it a light air from the northward. At nine i'. M. the water had deepened to five fathoms. The ship kept off the ground all night, and the exhausted crew obtained some broken rest.
A few days after, the Griper again got into shallows, amid the most boisterous weather, and capt. Lyon was reluctantly compelled to bring her up; the anchors held, though the ship was dipping bowsprit and forecastle under, and taking green seas over all. This soon wetted; every one completely, and as the lower deck was flooded before they could batten down the hatches, the men's hammocks were thoroughly soaked. Thick falling, sleet covered the decks to some inches in depth, and, with all the spray, froze as it fell. "Never shall I forget," . says capt. L., "the dreariness of this most anxious night. Our ship pitched at such a rate that it was not possible to stand even below, while on deck we were unable to move without holding by ropes which were stretched from side to side. The drift snow blew in such sharp, heavy flakes that we could not look to windward, and it froie on deck to above a foot in depth. The sea made incessant breaches quite fore and aft the ship, and the temporary warmth it gave while it washed over us, was most painfully checked by its almost immediately freezing, on our clothes. To these discomforts were added the horrible uncertainty as towhether the cables would hold uutil daylight, and the conviction that, if they failed us, we should instantly be dashed to pieces; the wind blowing directly to. the quarter in which we knew the shore must lie. The hurricane blew with such violence as to be perfectly deafening; and the heavy rush of the sea made it difficult to reach the mainmast, where the officer of the watch and his people sat shivering, completely cased in frozen snow, under a small tarpauling, before which ropes were stretched to preserve them in their places. I never beheld a darker night, and its gloom was increased by the rays of a small horn lantern, which was suspended from the mizen stay, to xhow where the people sat."
At dawn the best bower anchor parted, and as the gale blew tremendously there was little reason to expect the other anchors would hold long: all doubt on this point was soon at an end, for, having received two heavy seas, both the other cables went at the same moment, and the ship, like a log, was left to [drift on the shore. At this alarming crisis there was no confusion—no outcry that the cables were gone ; but Messrs. Morrice and Carr went aft, as soon as they had recovered their legs, and, in a whisper, told the Captain the cables had parted. Fortunately at this moment it was slack water, and the wind coming round to northnorth-west she fell off to north-east, or seaward. At noon a dim meridian altitude was obtained, and Southampton Island observed indistinctly, distant eighteen or twenty miles; but they could see nothing of the coast they had escaped, as it was still covered by dark clouds and snow-storms.
It was now clearly impossible to pursue the ultimate object of the expedition, and to Return home, however painful that alternative might be, was unquestionably the most judicious course. Capt. Lyon having maturely weighed all the circumstances of their distressed situation, turned up the hands, and informed them that, having lost all their bower anchors and chains, and being, in consequence, unable to bring up in any part of the Welcome, being opposed to the sets of a tremendous tide-way, and constant heavy gales, one of which was" rapidly sweeping them back to the southward, and being yet above eighty miles from Repulse Bay, with the shores leading to which they were unacquainted, their compasses useless, he had determined on making southing to clear the narrows of the Welcome.
Nothing particular occurred in the homeward voyage. On the 4th of November they made the Land's End; and on the 10th they ran into Portsmouth har
bour," where, they were soon safely 'secured to a three-decker's mooring. Some of the men were much exhausted by their constant exposure to the wash of the sea, and three were sent to the hospital. They soon, however, recovered, and the Griper was paid off on the 13th of December.
We have taken up so much space with narrating the voyage that we have left ourselves no room for observations. No blame can be justly imputed to any body; a braver and more exemplary crew was never mustered than that which accompanied captain Lyon. Perhaps a little more moderation might have been shown in loading the Griper; she really seems to have been stowed with rather a John Bull propensity; and if capt. L would have contented himself with a little less provender, and a few more anchors, we are apt to think that he would now have been consoling himself in Repulse Bay. We are rather at a loss, too, to comprehend what the Captain wanted with a gig and ponies—unless it were to show off his gallantry among the Esquimaux ladies.
The Rambler, of 400 tons," and the Midas, of 500 tons, have within these few days arrived direct from New South Wales, fully laden with cargoes of oil, seal-skins, wool, and timber. The latter article is chiefly of the fine blue-tree plank, well adapted, from its length and durable properties, for the purpose of ship-building. The agricultural interests of the Settlement are in a flourishing condition, and the wools of this colony, we learn, are likely to be brought to a quality which will rival those from the continent of Europe.
Rain in 1824.—The quantity of rain which fell in the last year in the neighbourhood of London was 32.74. The average of seven years—1817 to 1823—was only 22.76375 ; nearly ten inches less than the fall in the past year, 1824. The highest was in 1821, viz. 29.49875; and the lowest in 1818, viz. 19.445.
The Tartars in the spring, when the sap is rising, pierce the walnut-trees, and put in a spigot for some time. When this is withdrawn, a clear sweet liquor flows out, which, when coagulated, they use as sugar.
In an abbey of Italian Benedictines, there has recently been found a series of musical instruments, which belonged to the age of the Lower Empire: among them is a cythera, formed of ivory, the chords of which are of gold, mounted by rosettes of diamonds.
Of the 10,000 abodes 'of chivalry which were erected in the reign of king Stephen, we seldom meet with more than scattered fragments, whose massive strength and precautionary bulwarks sufficiently attest the state of society in the middle ages, and how strictly the dwellings of the feudal chieftains verified the ancient legal adage, that "every man's house is his castle." The ruins of Wilton castle, of which we give a sketch, are situated on the western bank of the Wye in Herefordshire, and owe their present desolation to the royalist governor of Hereford, by whose order, in the reign of Charles I., the castle was burnt to the bare walls, in the absence of its then possessor, sir J. Brydges. For several centuries it was the baronial residence of the Greys; who derived from it their first title, and who became owners in the time of Edward I. The remaining towers display a luxuriant mantling of ivy.
Crossing the Wye, and about three quarters of a mile from the castle, is the market town of Ross, the church of which is a handsome structure, and the churchyard and contiguous field, called the prospect-ground, are much celebrated for their picturesque scenery. Immediately below the eye the river forms a fine semicircle, at one of the extremities of which are the ruins of the castle, and beyond it an extensive and luxuriant vale, terminated by the distant mountains of Pembrokeshire; indeed this town, from the pleasantness of its situation, has of late
years become a place of resort" to the numerous summer parties who visit tha Wye; and boats are kept for the accommodation of those who make an excursion down the river.
This town also derives an adventitious lustre from its inhabitant John Kyrle, the celebrated Man of Ross, whom Pope has immortalized. This distinguished model of benevolence resided in the house now converted into the King's Arms Inn, where he spent his income, of about 5001. a year, in acts of utility and benevolence. Among other public works, the prospectground, mentioned above, and the walk that extends thence for nearly a mile to the southward, were formed by his liberality; he likewise raised the spire of the church,and formed a reservoir for the use of the inhabitants. The exemplary tenour of his actions, and goodness of heart, procuyd him the love of his contemporaries; and Pope, during his visits to Holm Lacy, having obtained a knowledge of his beneficence, celebrated in glowing colours the virtues of the philanthropist: —
* Who hung with woods yon mountain's sultry
hrow , From the dry rock who hade the waters flow? Not to the skies in useless columns tost, Or in proud falls magnificently lost; But clear and artless.pouring through the plain. Health to the sick, and solace to the swain. Whose causeway parts the vale with shady
rows i Whose seats the weary traveller repose? Who taught that heav'n-directed spire to,
rise? The Man of Ross, each lisping babe replies 1"'