Lapas attēli

when the ship's head was on that point of the compass—but on this subject we shall have to speak hereafter. Two days after this, Captain Sabine took the magnetic dip on shore in lat. 74° 2' N. long. 58° 45' W., which was found to be 84° 9' 15".

A little farther northward, the two ships fell in with several whalers which had got the start of them; from one of those, the Everthorpe, a message was received requesting surgical assistance for the master, whose thigh had been severely lacerated by a bear, which had attacked and dragged him out of the boat. This savage animal was pierced with three lances before it would relinquish its gripe; when at length disengaging itself from the weapons, it swam to the ice, and made off. The poor man, though sadly torn, was happily not considered to be in a dangerous state.

On the 31st July, in lat. 75° 33', whales were seen in great abundance, and the boats being sent in pursuit, succeeded in killing one above forty-six feet in length, which yielded them about thirteen tons of blubber. On the same day, they parted from the last fishing ship, the Bon Accord of Aberdeen, with three cheers.

On the 6th and 7th of August, the two ships were in great danger from being caught by a gale of wind among the ice, when they fell foul of each other : the ice-anchors and cables broke one after another, and the sterns of the two ships came so violently into contact, as to crush to pieces a boat that could not be removed in time.'

. Neither the masters, the mates, nor those men who had been all their lives in the Greenland service, had ever experienced such imminent peril: and they declared that a common whaler must have been crushed to atorns. Our safety must, indeed, be attributed to the perfect and admirable manner in which the vessels had been strengthened when fitting for service.

. But our troubles were not yet at an end; for, as the gale increased, the ice began to move with greater velocity, while the continued thick fall of snow kept from our sight the further danger that awaited us, till it became imminent; a large field of ice was soon discovered at a small distance, bearing fast down upon us from the west, and it thus became necessary to saw docks for refuge, in which service all hands were immediately employed; it was, however, found too thick for our ninefeet saws, and no progress could be made. This circumstance proved fortunate, for it was soon after perceived, that the field, to which we were moored for this purpose, was drifting rapidly on a reef of icebergs which lay aground: the topsails were therefore close-reefed, in order that we might run, as a last resource, between two bergs, or into any creek that might be found among them; when suddenly the field acquired a circular motion, so that every exertion was now necessary for the purpose of warping along the edge, that being the sole chance we


had of escaping the danger of being crushed on an iceberg. In a. few minutes we observed that part of the field, into which we had attempted to cut our docks, come in contact with the berg, with such rapidity and violence, as to rise more than fifty feet up its precipitous side, where it suddenly broke, the elevated part falling back on the rest with a terrible crash, and overwhelming with its ruins the very spot we had previously chosen for our safety. Soon afterwards the ice appeared to us sufficiently open for us to pass the reef of bergs, and we once more found ourselves in a place of security.'

The gale having abated, and the weather cleared up, the land was seen in lat. 75° 54'. On the 8th of August, a landing was made on a small island, about six miles off, utterly desolate; but piles of stone, such as are frequent in the burying places of the Esquimaux, were observed, and the burned end of the stem of a heath bush, which, Saccheous said, was an instrument with which his countrymen trimmed their lamps. The ships made very little progress along the margin of the ice, which separated them from the shore and adhered to it. On the 9th, at a distance upon this ice, they were greatly surprized by the appearance of people, who seemed to be hallooing to the ships. At first they were supposed to be some shipwrecked sailors, whose vessel had perished in the late gale; the ships therefore stood nearer the ice, and hoisted their colours. It was discovered however that they were natives of the country, drawn by dogs on sledges, which moved with wonderful rapidity. When they had approached near enough to the ships, Saccheous hailed them in his own language, and they answered in return, but neither party seemed to make themselves intelligible. For some time the strangers remained silent, but on the ships' tacking, they set up a simultaneous shout, accompanied with many strange gesticulations, and wheeled off with amazing velocity towards the land.

Having erected a pole, and placed on the ice a stool with some presents on it, and an Esquimaux dog, the ships stood to the northward towards the head of the pool, with an intention to return after examining the state of the ice. After an absence of ten hours, the dog was found asleep on the spot where he had been left, and the presents were untouched. But on the following day eight sledges were observed moving furiously towards the ships. Saccheous now volunteered his services to go on the ice with presents, and endeavour to bring the people to a parley. They halted at the distance of about half a mile from the ships, by the edge of a canal or chasm in the ice, by the intervention of which the conference was carried on, without fear or danger of an attack from either party. Saccheous soon discovered that they spoke a dialect of his own language, and invited them to approach nearer, but they replied, 'No, no, go you away,' --and one of • What great


them, drawing a knife out of his boot, exclaimed “Go away, or I will kill you.' Saccheous told them that he had a father and mother like them, and wished to be their friend; and as a proof of it, he threw across the canal some beads and a chequed shirt, to the latter of which they pointed, asking him of what skin it was made. It was some time before they ventured to touch it, entertaining no doubt the same superstitious fears as the Esquimaux in general, (noticed by the old navigators,) that to touch any strange thing would cause their death. They then pointed to the ships, and inquired with great eagerness, creatures those were; whether they came from the sun or moon, whether they gave light by night or by day?' Saccheous told them they were houses made of wood : this, they replied, could not be, for they were alive, and they had seen them flap their wings. Saccheous again assured them of the truth of all he had told them, and that he was a man like themselves; and, pointing to the south, said he came in those houses from a distant country in that direction. To this they immediately replied, "That cannot be: there is nothing but ice there. On his asking who they were, they told him in return they were human beings; that they lived to the north, (pointing in that direction, that there was plenty of water there, and that they had come to the present spot where there was ice, to catch seals and sea unicorns. Saccheous finding that they mutually understood each other, and wishing to become better acquainted, now returned to the ship for a plank to enable him to cross over to them; but on his approach they entreated he would not touch them, as in that case they should certainly die. One of them however, more courageous than the rest, ventured at last to touch his hand; then pulling his own nose, he set up a loud shout, in which he was joined by Saccheous and the other three. This pulling of noses, it seems, is a token of friendly salutation.*

The whole eight now came forward, and were met by the two commanders of the vessels, and the other officers; but they were evidently in a state of great alarm until the ceremony of pulling noses had been gone through by both parties, shouting at the same tiine heigh-yaw! an exclamation of surprize and pleasure, the more remarkable as being precisely that which is universally used by the Chinese and Tartars, to express the same emotions. The old trick, we are told, of shewing them their faces in a looking-glass created the utmost astonishment; this we cannot well conceive; since ice, in which they could not fail to have observed reflected images, is so familiar to them in fact, they inquired if it was not ice, and seemed surprized that it did not wet their fingers.

* The officers of the Expedition, we understand, declare that they never saw nor heard of this · pulling of noses' till it was mentioned by Captain Ross on their return, at Shetland. We are altogether at a loss to account for this. It seems scarcely possible that Captain Ross could be mistaken in a ceremony of so singular a kind, and which he represents not only as frequently, but solemnly repeated.

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On approaching the ship, they halted, and were evidently much terrified; and one of the party, after surveying the Isabella and examining every part of her with his eyes, thus addressed her in a loud tone—“Who are you? Where do you come from? Is it from the sun or moon ?' pausing between every question, and pulling the nose with the greatest solemnity, a ceremony which was repeated in succession by all the rest.

• Saccheous now laboured to assure them, that the ship was only a wooden house, and pointed out the boat, which had been hauled on the ice to repair; explaining to them that it was a smaller one of the same kind. This immediately arrested their attention, they advanced to the boat, examined her, as well as the carpenters' tools and the oars, very minutely ; each object, in its turn, exciting the most ludicrous ejaculations of surprize; we then ordered the boat to be launched into the sea, with a man in it, and hauled up again, at the sight of which they set no bounds to their clamour. The ice anchor, a heavy piece of iron, shaped like the letter S, and the cable, excited much interest; the former they tried in vain to remove, and they tagerly inquired of what skins the latter was made.

By this time the officers of both ships had surrounded them, while, the bow of the Isabella, which was close to the ice, was crowded with the crew; and, certainly, a more ludicrous, yet interesting, scene was never beheld, than that which took place whilst they were viewe ing the ship; nor is it possible to convey to the imagination any thing like a just representation of the wild amazement, joy, and fear, which successively pervaded the countenances, and governed the gestures, of these creatures, who gave full vent to their feelings ; and, I am sure, it was a gratifying scenc, which never can be forgotten by those who witnessed and enjoyed it.

. Their shouts, halloos, and laughter, were heartily joined in, and imitated by all hands, as well as the ceremony of nose pulling, which could not fail to increase our mirth on the occasion. That which most of all excited their admiration, was the circumstance of a sailor going aloft, and they kept their eyes on him till he reached the summit of the mast; the sails, which hung loose, they naturally supposed were skins. Their attention being again called to the boat, where the carpenter's hammer and nails still remained, they were shown the use of these articles; and no sooner were they aware of their purposes, than they shewed a desire to possess them, and were accordingly presented with some nails. They now accompanied us to that part of the bow from which a rope-ladder was suspended, and the mode of mounting it was shewn them, but it was a considerable time ere we could prevail on them to ascend it. At length the senior, who always led the way, went up, and was followed by the rest. The new wonders that now sur

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rounded them on every side caused fresh astonishment, which, after moment's suspense, always terminated in loud and hearty laughter.'

p. 89.

That a person who had never beheld a piece of wood larger than the twig of a birch rod, of the thickness of a goose quill, should be unacquainted with the weight of a ship’s top-mast, and lay hold of it with the view of carrying it away, we can readily conceive; but that these people should be equally ignorant of the nature of iron, and attempt to run off with an anchor and a smith's anvil, surprizes us:—and the rather, as the blades of their knives were made of this metal, and, of course, they could not be ignorant of its weight. It is almost needless to add how much they were astonished at every thing they saw, for the first time in their lives, in and about the ships, and at the people on board, so different from themselves. They were offered refreshments, but they had no relish for biscuit, salt meat, or spirits : and preferred to them all the dried flesh of the sea unicorn, which they carried about with them. Having received some trifling presents, they returned to the shore, hallooing and apparently delighted with the treatment they had met.

The ships in the mean time took up a new anchorage in the neighbourhood; and two or three days afterwards were visited by three other natives, a father and two sons, who had been informed by their countrymen of the wonderful things which they had seen. The most important information obtained from this party was, that the iron with which their knives were edged, ' was found in a mountain; that it was in great masses, of which one in particular, harder than the rest, was a part of the mountain; that the others were in large pieces above ground; that they cut it off with hard stone, and then beat it flat into pieces of the size of a sixpence, but of an oval shape. Captain Ross made them several presents, and promised further to reward them if they would bring him specimens of this iron—'having reason,' he says, 'to believe from their account, that the rocks from which they had procured it were masses of meteoric iron'—not surely because it was a part of the mountain,' which we rather think would be decisive at once against its meteoric origin. The fact however is, that the blades of their knives have been found, on analysis, to contain about the usual proportion of nickel which is met with in meteoric iron; but we have understood that the interpretation of Saccheous did not extend to the existence of whole rocks of it, but was conțined to two pieces only, about two feet in their greatest length; one of which was broader than the other, and detied the exertions of the natives to cut off any part of it with the


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