Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

foot and throwing the other nearly as high as the head. At length, on my bawling “ noowerlawgo," (I wish to barter), they became quiet at once, and one of them, running to his kayack, and paddling off to us, was followed by many of the others, even before they could witness the reception' we gave him. They came boldly alongside, and exchanged their spears, arrows, bows, and some pieces of well-dressed seal-skin, for bits of old iron-hoop, files, and beads. They were not so well furnished with iron-work as the Esquimaux we had seen further to the westward, and very eagerly received a supply from us. In our intercourse with them we experienced much advantage from a simple contrivance suggested by Mr. Kendall, and constructed during our halt in Refuge Cove: it was a barricade, formed by raising the masts and spare oars eighteen inches above the gunwale, on two crutches, or davits, which not only prevented our Esquimaux visitors from stealing out of the boats, but, in the event of a quarrel, could have been rendered arrow proof, by throwing the blankets or sails over it. On a light breeze springing up we set the sails, and continuing to ply the oars, advanced at the rate of four miles an hour, attended by eleven kayacks. Three oomiaks with the women followed us, and we found that, when rowed by two women, and steered by a third, they surpassed our boats in speed.

• The females, unlike those of the Indian tribes, had much handsomer features than the men ; and one young woman of the party would have been deemed pretty even in Europe. Our presents seemed to render them perfectly happy, and they danced with such ecstacy in their slender boats as to incur, more than once, great hazard of being overset. A bundle of strings of beads being thrown into an oomiak, it was caught by an old woman, who hugged the treasure to her breast with the strongest expression of rapture, while another elderly dame, who had stretched out her arms in vain, became the very picture of despair. On my explaining, however, that the present was for the whole, an amicable division instantly took place; and to show their gratitude, they sang a song to a pleasing air, keeping time with their oars. They gave us many pressing invitations to pass the night at their tents, in which they were joined by the men; and to excite our liberality the mothers drew their children out of their wide boots, where they are accustomed to carry them naked, and holding them up, begged beads for them. Their entreaties were, for a time, successful; but being desirous of getting clear of our visiters before breakfasttime, we at length told them that our stock was exhausted, and they took leave.

* These Esquimaus were as inquisitive as the others we had seen, respecting our names, and were very desirous of teaching us the true pronunciation of theirs. They informed us that they had seen Indians, and had heard of white people, but had never seen any before. My giving a little deer's meat to one of them in exchange for fish, led to an inquiry as to how we killed the animal. On which Ooligbuck showed them his gun, and obtaining permission, fired it off, after cautioning them not to be alarmed. The report astonished them much, and an echo from some neighbouring pieces of ice made them think that the ball had struck the shore, then upwards of a mile distant. The women had left us previously, Several of the men departed the instant they heard the report; and the rest, in a short time, followed their example. They applied to the gun the same name they give to their harpoons for killing whales. ·

• We learned from these people that the shore we were now coasting was part of the main land, and that some land to the northward, which appeared soon after we had passed their tents, consisted of two islands ; between which and the main shore, there was a passage leading to the open sea.

On landing to cook breakfast, and obtain a meridian observation for latitude, we observed the interior of the country to be similar to that seen from Nicholson's Island. The soil was in some spots sandy, but, generally, it consisted of a tenacious clay which cracks in the sun. The air was perfumed by numerous tufts of a beautiful phlox, and of a still handsomer and very fragrant cruciform flower, of a genus hitherto undescribed.'-pp. 224-227.

The boats steered for the passage which was described as leading between the two islands and the main land to the open sea. The opening was narrow, and nearly barred up; but, after pulling through it, the water appeared for the first time greenish, and perfectly salt. It had hitherto been only brackish. The cape forming the eastern point of this entrance lies in latitude 70° 36' N., longitude 127° 35' W.; it proved to be the most northerly part of the

main shore which they saw during the voyage, and was named Cape Bathurst. Dr. Richardson thinks that it is, most probably,' the most northern point of the continent, with the exception of the land near Icy Cape, discovered by Captain Beechey, in the Blossom,

It would seem, if the information furnished by the Esquimaux may be relied on, and which Dr. Richardson considers correct, that the eastern expedition had been hitherto, from the time they quitted the Mackenzie until they reached Cape Bathurst, actually traversing the Esquimaux lake, already alluded to. According to their account it extends from north to south more than one hundred and fifty miles, and from east to west one hundred

and fifty.

• It is reported to be full of islands, to be every where brackish ; and, besides its communication with the eastern branch of the Mackenzie, to receive two other large rivers. If a conjecture may be hazarded about the original formation of a lake which we had so few opportunities of examining, it seems probable that the alluvial matters brought down by the Mackenzie, and other rivers, have gradually formed a barrier of islands and shoals, which, by preventing the free access of the tide, enables the fresh water to maintain the predominance behind it. The action of the waves of the sea has a tendency to increase the height of the barrier, while the currents of the rivers and ebb-tide preserve the depth of the lake. A great formation of wood-coal will, I doubt not, be ultimately formed by the immense quantities of drift-timber annually deposited on the borders of the Esquimaux Lake.'--p. 228. .

After doubling Cape Bathurst, the party observed several white and black whales. We must not pass over Dr. Richardson’s note on this occurrence.

• The appearance of whales on the north coast, nearly midway between the nearest passages into Behring's and Barrow's Straits, and upwards of a thousand miles distant from either, affords subject for interesting speculation. It is known that they must come frequently to the surface to breathe, and the following questions naturally arise : Are there at all seasons large spaces of open water in the Arctic Seas? or do these animals travel from the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans immediately on the breaking up of the ice off Cape Bathurst, and so early in the season as the middle of July; while the sea, to the eastward and westward, is still covered with ice? If the latter is the fact, it is a very curious part of the natural history of these animals. The Esquimaux informed us, that they are rarely seen when the ice lies close, and in accordance with this remark Captain Franklin saw few to the westward, and we also lost them as we approached the Coppermine River, and met with more ice.'--p. 229.

Several large masses of ice were floating about, but they were no impediment to the boats. They moved briskly along the coast, which, to their great joy, they found running in a straight direction for Coppermine river. No land, nor fields of ice, nor even large floes, were visible to seaward. The coast consisted of precipitous banks of shale cliffs, which were on fire* in many places, and yielded much alum. The interior of the country, as seen from the top of the cliffs, appeared to be nearly level, and to abound in small lakes. Tufts of the beautiful phlox before mentioned were scattered over these otherwise unsightly wastes; and notwithstanding the scanty vegetation, rein-deer were numerous. Some of “the young ones, to whom man was doubtless a novel object, came trotting up to gratify their curiosity, and were suffered to depart unmolested.'

As the party proceeded southward they experienced some disappointment, in being obliged to double a promontory, which took them considerably out of their way, in a northern direction. Here the coast, and the country in its neighbourhood, consisted almost entirely of limestone; the cliffs and points of land presented many caverns and perforated rocks, which strongly resembled the windows and crypts of Gothic buildings. On the eastern side of the promontory the voyagers observed many excavations, ornamented by graceful slender pillars, and exbibiting so perfect a similarity to the pure Gothic arch, that had nature made many such displays in the old world, there would be but one opinion as to the origin of that style of architecture.'

The navigation along the coast, at the eastern side of the promontory, became more difficult every day, in consequence of the closeness with which the ice was packed on the shore. At length the party succeeded in reaching the mouth of the Coppermine river on the 8th of August. Having ascended the river as far as it was practicable, which was not more than eleven miles, the rapids beyond that distance offering innumerable obstacles, the boats

** The shale takes fire in consequence of its containing a considerable quantity of sulphur in a state of such minute division, that it very readily attracts oxygen from the atmosphere, and inflames.'-Dr. Richardson.

were abandoned, and Dr. Richardson and his companions effected their return overland to the Great Bear Lake, which they traversed in canoes, and arrived at Fort Franklin on the 28th. The whole party spent a second winter here; and Captain Franklin, accompanied by Dr. Richardson, set out by Canada and New York for London, where they arrived the latter end of September, in the following year (1827).

Having thus brought the narrative of this expedition to a close, we cannot take leave of the two distinguished officers, under whose directions it was carried into effect, without offering them the tribute of our unaffected admiration for the coolness and perseverance which they appear to have exhibited throughout the many perils which they encountered. To the officers by whom they were accompanied, as well as the men who assisted them, the applause of their country is also due, and we trust that they will receive the promotion which they have so well earned. Their united services have indeed lost somewhat of that brilliancy by which they would have been distinguished, if Captain Franklin had had the good fortune to reach Icy Cape. Nevertheless, the discoveries which they have made, and the length of coast which they have been enabled, under the most harassing circumstances, to delineate, must entitle them to be ranked with Captains Parry and Lyons, and the other eminent officers, who may now be said to have opened to the eye of science almost the whole of the Arctic regions.

ART II.- Historical Sketches of Charles I., Cromwell, Charles II., and

the Principal Personages of that period; illustrated by Fifty Lithographic Plates. By W. D. Fellowes, Esq. 4to. pp. 517. London

and Paris. 1828. It has often struck us as matter of regret that, in the distribution of the arts and sciences among the nine dauyhters of Memory, the province of History should have been allotted to so very dignified a personage as the Muse who has hitherto presided over it. On the score, we presume, of her primogeniture, she has really all along been in the habit of assuming an air and deportment greatly too majestic for the nature of the occupation assigned to her, and such as in fact quite unfits her for the performance of many of the duties to which she is expected to give her attention. Her business is nothing less than to study man in all the variety of his conditions and doings, to observe and note down whatever he has performed and suffered, to chronicle for us not merely his wars and more splendid crimes, but his domestic habits, his superstitions, his most unimposing weaknesses-to tell us, in one word, the story of humanity in all its mingled light and shade, wisdom and folly, grandeur and meanness. Yet, how has she in general acquitted herself of these multifarious duties? By confining her

discourse merely to a notice of a few of the more conspicuous incidents that cast their shadows on the surface of society; the movements of armies, for example, the intrigues of statesmen, the whims of kings—and passing over, as beneath her regard, almost every thing else that forms part of the goings-on of this breathing world,

And this is what we have learned to call Historya cold and pompous recital of what we may denominate the mere ceremonial of social life--a record of the heraldic shews and flourishes that have filled the eyes and the ears of men, to the exclusion of whatever has really come home to their bosoms, and formed the regular business of their hands and the daily bread of their affections.

Even in treating, too, of the matters with which alone she deigns to occupy herself, nothing can be conceived more frigid and unnatural than the mode of narration usually adopted by the bistoric muse. Whatever would lead us to think of the per sonages introduced as men like ourselves, and would thence engage us to sympathize most intensely with their fortunes, it is her fashion to pass over, as too much savouring, forsooth, of common life for the lofty tone of her delineations, in which nothing is individual or familiar, or picturesque, but every thing general, artifi, cial, affected, and unaffecting. Her dramatis persone are all the mere wooden images of a puppet-shew, having neither power nor volition, nor any other attribute of life or character, of their own, but moving to and fro as if some concealed hand were directing them by a string. You see them sometimes here and sometimes there, and it may be according to a certain rule and method that they perform their various evolutions; but if so, the laws of astronomy would enable us to calculate them nearly as well as those of human nature. The whole exhibition, in one word, looks almost as like a transcript of the rotations of the distant stars, as of the doings of beings of our own species, and dwelling on the same earth with ourselves. It has nothing about it of either the aspect or the din of earth at all—but is all over as cold as the glow, and as uninteresting as the music, of the spheres.

Yet even kings and statesmen, we need hardly observe, have human hearts in their bosoms, and are, in truth, servile to human passions in their high place, just as much as the humblest and obscurest of their fellow-men. Nor are those even of their public actions that seem to influence the fate and make part of the history of nations, less the result of feelings common to them. with their kind, than are the most trivial or unobtrusive parts of their private conduct. They, and the multitudes whom they seem to lead and command, are one and all inheritors of the same bondage, and alike the sport, from their cradles to their graves, of that despotism which has its seat within the breast of each of them. Even the history of nations, then, is still the history of men-and is, indeed, in this respect alone distinguished from

« AnteriorContinuar »