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here, I should have been inclined to think that the red or colouring matter alluded to is the excrement of these birds. What renders this conjecture probable is, that we found great numbers of them seated in the rocks, precisely over where the red snow lay.'*
It had also been ascertained many years ago, from some experiments by Mr. Hatchet, that the red colouring matter which prevails in the ova of the whole family of lobsters, shrimps, &c. was of so fixed and permanent a nature as to resist every chemical application, and to be heightened by most of them; of this indestructible property the act of boiling affords a familiar example. It was not unreasonable therefore to conclude, that the colouring matter of the snow was animal, more especially as it was found, on examination through the microscope, to be composed of small globules, like those of the blood, from the 1,000dth to the 3,000dth part of an inch in diameter; that it had a fetid animal smell; and that the colour was not altered, or rather was heightened, by the application of acids and alkalis. The general opinion, however, among the officers of the Expedition was in favour of its vegetable origin; one of the gentlemen who collected it says that it had very much the taste of beet-root; another thought it tasted of the mushroom. : Doctor Wollaston, after examining it very minutely, both by the microscope and chemical tests, has given an opinion that it is a vegetable product, though many difficulties occurred in coming to this decision. His first conception was that the colouring matter might be the spawn of a minute species of shrimp, known to abound in those seas, and which might be devoured by the myriads of water-fowl and voided with their dung; but no exuviæ of those animals were discovered among it. The globules, by destructive distillation, yielded a fetid oil, accompanied with ammonia, which might also have led to the supposition that they were of animal origin; but it is known that the seeds of various plants and the leaves of fuci give out this product. The great difference in the dimensions of the globules, as well as their diminutive size, seemed to militate against their being the seed of any particular plant; besides, what species of plant, in a region covered with snow, and in a latitude of 76°, could ținge eight or ten miles of surface to the depth of two inches? The cellular substance, however, to which the globules adhered, burnt away to a white ash, and was decidedly vegetable. When the globules were highly magnified, they appeared internally subdivided into about eight or ten cells. On the whole, the description seemed * Voyage of Discovery made in 1818 to the Arctic Regions.
+ They were afterwards found not to be cellular: the appearance was the effect of · an optical deception.
to accord'so accurately with the capsules which contain the dusty seed of the puff-ball (lycoperdon) as to afford, in combination with other circumstances, an apparent explanation of the cause of this curious phenomenon. . At the foot of those projecting points of hills, on which the tinged snow generally appeared, was a level belt of land, covered in several spots with thick coarse grass, eight or nine inches in length: and Mr. Fisher says that such portions of it as were not covered with grass presented a beautiful surface of soft-tufted moss, which the natives use as wicks to their lamps.' This moss, as we have already noticed, is a species of polytricum, which is well known to throw out from its capsules a fine elastic coloured powder, that has been mistaken by some writers for its seed; and in fact it has been asserted that the plant has been raised by sowing it. It seems, however, that in this high latitude the family of mosses do not arrive at that perfect state of vegetation necessary, in general, for the propagation of the species; but that they multiply and continue the race by pullulation or throwing out shoots from the roots or stems. Should this be considered as a valid objection against the pollen of the moss being the cause of the colouring matter, the observations of Dr. Wollaston may still lead to a less objectionable solution of the difficulty. As it would seem that every animal has some minuter animal quartered upon it, so every plant may be supposed to have its parasite, generally one of that numerous family of fungi, which are the wolves and tygers of the vegetable world. A minute examination of the luxuriant moss in question would perhaps discover a fungus attached to its fibres, just as the lycoperdon or uredo, (we are not quite sure which) fixing on wheat, occasions the disease well known by the name of smut: no one, we presume, will doubt that, if it were possible for a field of wheat, tainted with this disease, to grow out of a surface of snow, that surface would be as strongly tinged with the black dust of the smut as the snow on the coast of Greenland was tinged with red. The roots of the moss in question, we understand, were of deep scarlet, and their juices might perhaps give a colour to the parasite plant. To this moss then may, directly or indirectly, be attributed the crimson cliffs' so outrageously (not to say ridiculously) exaggerated in the print given by Captain Ross. If it be objected that fungi have not been known to attack the mosses, they at least fix upon grass, and the coarse grass appears to have been nearly as abun. dant as the polytricum. Mr. Browne, whose opinions are always entitled to respect as the first philosophical botanist in this kingdom, probably in Europe, conjectures that it may be derived from
some of the algæ, confervæ, or tremellæ ;* but we doubt whether any of these vegetate on snow; besides, we understand that Mr. Bauer of Kew, whose accuracy of observation through magnifying glasses is well known, has observed the same form and the same pedicle that he noticed on the uredo, which we think conclusive in favour of a fyngus.
This is by no means the first mention made of red snow. Pliny. says, and Aristotle had said it before him, that snow becomes red with age, occasioned however, as these naturalists tell us, by a red worm which is bred in it. Sigpor Sarotti speaks of a bloodcoloured snow which appeared on the mountains near Genoa, and which yielded a liquor of the same colour. Saussure frequently observed red snow on various parts of the Alps, the colouring matter of which, from the smell given out in burning, he concluded to be the farina of some particular plant, more especially as he never met with this snow but in summer. This however is inconclusive, as it might have lain over the winter. Ramond found a şimilarly coloured snow on the Pyrenees, which he concluded to be tinged by the decomposition of a particular kiņd of mica. Marten also, in his voyage to Spitzbergen, mențions his having seen red snow near the Seven Icebergs, a place well known to the whale-fishers. Here, says he, the rocks, appearing like an old decayed wall, smell very sweet, as the green fields do in our coun, try in the spring when it rains ;' and, having observed that they are veined like marble with red, white, and yellow, he adds, 'at the alteration of the weather the stones sweat, and by that means the snow is stained or coloured; and also if it raineth much, the water suns down by the rocks, and from whence the snow is tinged red.' The officers of the polar expedition also observed red snow on the mountains, near Smeerenberg, but the rocķs being of a reddish colour they conceived it to be occasioned by some ochreous matter, and took no further notice of it. In the last number of the 'Journal of Literature, Science, and the Arts,'t several iîstances are recorded of showers of red snow having fallen in different parts of the world, but all of them were found, on examination, to give out mineral products; and it may perhaps be concluded that the colouring of the snow on the shores of Baffin's Bay is the only instance of its arising from an organized substance.
On the 18th of August the ships passed Cape Dudley Digges, whose latitude was found to agree pretty nearly with that assigned to it by Baffin; and the same day they also passed the Wolsten
* · Algarum genus ?? Confervis simplicissimis et Tremellæ cruentæ (Eng. Bot. 1800.) quodanı modo affine?? Minute globules, the colouring matter of the red snow, of which extensive patches were seen in lat. ?6° 25' N., lovg: 650 W † For April.
holme holme Sound of that navigator, and found it completely bļocked ụp with ice.' We find it, however, in the view taken by Mr. Skene, and published by Captain Ross, a wide and deep opening,
completely free from ice;' and from the disposition and conformation of the land, which is also entirely free from ice or snow as far as the view extends, we should say that it wears very much the appearance of a strait. Captain Ross says, ' it seemed to be eighteen or twenty leagues in depth, and the land on each side appeared to be habitable;' and this is all the knowledge, gained by the expedition, of Wolstenholme Sound, which is less than Baffin procured two hundred years ago. Of the correctness of the shape and dimensions of a winding bay, from a slight view taken in these foggy latitudes at a very considerable distance from its entrance, and which seemed to be sixty miles in depth, it would be a waste of time to talk. It may have been blocked up with ice; but Mr. Skene, who must have looked at it when he drew it, apparently saw nothing but naked hills and clear water. The depth was 250 fathoms opposite to this bay, strait, or sound; and the weather afforded every opportunity of examining it, without risk and without much delay; it was not however examined.
Of · Whale Sound' no further notice is taken than that they could not approach it in a direct line on account of ice ;' in fact they never approached it nearer than twenty leagues, though the ice was probably not very compact, as near Carey's islands, which were discovered the same evening, the sea was clearer of ftoes and loose ice, Captain Ross says, than we had ever seen it,' but
there were visible a vast number of large icebergs, most of them aground in 250 fathoms; and they had the appearance of being .long washed by the waves. These could not have offered any impediment.*
About midnight of the 19th, Sir Thomas Smith's Sound of Baffin was distinctly seen, and the two capes forming its entrance were named after the two ships Isabella' and Alexander. • Į considered (says Captain Ross) the bottom of this sound to be about eighteen leagues distant, but its entrance was completely blocked up by ice. Now as the field-ice that blocks up coasts and harbours is generally from one to three feet above the surface, how this could be seen at the distance of eighteen leagues, (for it appears by the chart, that they were never nearer,) blocking up the entrance of the sound, is utterly unintelligible on any principle of optics and natural philosophy thạt we are act quainted with. As this opening is stated by Baffin to be the ** To the northward and eastward of Carey's islands was a blank space, where not any land was discernible; and this we supposed to be the entrance of Baffin's Whale Sound. -- Voyage of Discovery, &c.
largest of all the sounds he discovered, and as Captain Ross, by his own shewing, was sixty English miles from the entrance of it, he must forgive us for doubting the fact of his haviúg seen any part, much less the bottom of Sir Thomas Smith's Sound. The depth here was 192 fathoms, and we perceive no reason whatever why this interesting part of Baffin's Bay should have been slurred over so very hastily.*
We could have forgiven Captain Ross for passing by Wolstenholme and Whale Sounds, on the eastern side of Baffin's Bay, on account of the time which had unavoidably been spent in working up through the ice along the coast of Greenland; but it would have been most satisfactory to ascertain (and it might surely have been done in the course of two days) whether this extensive opening of Smith's Sound at the northern extremity of Baffin's Bay did or did not communicate with the great Polar Sea. As to the other great deep bay' to the westward of Sir T. Smith's Sound, the bottom of which is placed on the chart at a much greater distance than even that of the said sound, we have no better materials to enable us to come to any conclusion as to its fermination, than in the former case.t Captain Ross was evidently in haste to get out of it, thinking it perhaps prudent to follow the example of Master Robert Bylot, who, in another part of those seas,' concluded,' says Baffin, “that we were in a great bay, and so tacked and turned the shippes head homewards, without any farther search ;' at least, from this spot the heads of the two ships were . turned homewards,' leaving the bay and the sounds just as they saw them at a distance and as they were left by Baffin.
It is singular enough that, instead of plain facts, which we apprehend it was Captain Ross's duty to collect, he contents himself with assigning reasons for the non-existence of a passage in the northernmost corner of Baffin's Bay—just as La Peyrouse reasoned Saghalien into an island, which Captain Broughton afterwards ascertained to be a part of the continent of Tartary. He says, it is true, that he saw the land completely round, at different times, as did also the officers of the Alexander, who were at
* Mr. Fisher says he was much interested in ascertaining whether Greenland and the west land joined, and for this purpose kept the deck all day; but though the weather was remarkably clear and fine till midnight, he could not see any such junction. He appeals to the Alexander's log for confirmation of what he himself observed. It is probable that the chasın, or open space, to the northward, where not any land could be traced by me, might be that which Baffin calls Sir Thomas Smith's Sound; and if, agreeably to his relation, this is the “ deepest and largest sound in all this bay,” it is not likely that we should have seen the bottom of it at such a distance, as we estimate that we are twenty leagues from the northern extreme of the west land visible.'--Voyage of Discovery, &c.
+ Here again Mr. Fisher appeals to the Alexander's log, to shew that the land was not seen to the northward.