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•he great current which sets' round the Cape of Good Hope from the Indian ocean into the Southern Atlantic; or of the vast equinoxial current which bears its broad belt of water in a constant -stream from the shores of Africa into the Gulf of Mexico; from .whence it is discharged in a more confined, but not less constant, •stream along the western coast of America to the Great Bank of ^Newfoundland; where, meeting with another perpetual current from the arctic seas, it is deflected towards the east, to supply the unceasing demand of the Mediterranean, and replenish those very shores of Africa, from which it first set out.*
As little reason is there, we conceive, to doubt of a great body ©f water of the Northern Pacific being in a state of perpetual motion towards Behring's Strait. It is well known to navigators that a current sets in that direction along the coast of America, on the one side, and those of Japan and Kamstchatka on the other; but as the observations on the currents of these coasts have been few, and the currents observed might therefore be local and partial, we mean not wholly to rest our argument on them, but to have recourse to other and less equivocal proofs for the general movement of the Pacific towards the north. This is indisputably proved by the immense quantities of drift-wood constantly thrown up on the southern shores of the Aleutian islands; consisting of larch, fir, aspen, and other trees, the common produce of the two continents of Asia and America: but as a proof of the more southerly parts of the Northern Pacific partaking of the same motion, there is a curious fact mentioned in the voyage of Stephen Glottof, that, ' among other floating bodies (thrown up on the Aleutian islands) is found the true camphor-wood, and another sort very white, soft, and sweet-scented.'f This camphor-wood could
* A multitude of examples might be brought to confirm the fact of the gulf-stretim turning off to the eastward, and continuing to the coasts of France, Spain, Portugal, and Africa; among others, the two following deserve notice, and have not, we believe, been yet made public:—1 On the 10th of November last, a sealed bottle was picked up in the bay of Carnata, in the kingdom of Gallicia, three leagues south of Cape Finislerre, in which was the following memorandum: 11 This bottle was thrown overboard from the Catherine of London, in lat. 44° N., longitude by account, 13° 49' W., on Wednesday, 25th June, 1817. This being intended to ascertain the set of the current, whoever picks it up is requested to acknowledge it by making it public"
• On the very same spot was picked up in May last another bottle corked and sealed, containing a billet, addressed to John Williamson Shik, Esq. Georgia, written by Captain W. Baugh, in latitude 49° N. and longitude 43" W., on board the ship Georgia, on her voyage to Liverpool, but without date.'
It is much to be wished that navigators would make a constant practice of throwing .bottles overboard, which would contribute very materially to ascertain the great and permanent currents of the ocean. Had the Resolution and Discovery thrown out a few hundred bottles in Behring's Strait, the question of a free passage through the polar basin would probably long before this have been placed beyond the reach of doubt.
t Russian Discoveries, p. 186,
S14 * have have come only from the Asiatic islands, or from some part of tropical Asia. • ,
But this drift-wood does not all stop at the Aleutian islands; much of it, floating through their intermediate passages, finds its way still farther north into Behring's Strait, where it was taken up on both sides, and as far to the northward as the seventieth parallel of latitude, in such quantities, as to serve both the Resolution and Discovery for fire-wood; and it is stated to have been found excellent fuel. An observation in Captain Clerk e's journal respecting this wood is particularly deserving of notice, 'it was not,' he says,' in the least water-soaked;' now it is evident that, had it lain any great length of time in the water, it must necessarily have been water-soaked; and the inference is, that the logs and trees of the preceding year's drift had passed through the strait with the ice into the polar basin; we say, 'with the ice,' because it is equally evident, from the published account of Cook's voyage, that the ice, like the drift-wood, has a progressive motion to the, northward through the strait. This will appear from comparing the time and place of falling in with the ice in the two attempts to pass the' strait; in the latter it was first met with by Captain Clerke on the 6th of July, in lat. 6/°; whereas Captain Cook, in the preceding year, first fell in with it on the 17th of August in lat. 70° 41'; the northerly progress on these data being about a quarter of a mile an hour. In the months of May and June, the southern entrance into the strait would probably be found to be choaked up with the ice, which, :floating out of the numerous bays and creeks of each continent as soon as the frost breaks Up, is borne by the current into the strait. The formation of this ice by the land and in shoal still water is so well known, that the fact of Captain Clerke having entered in his journal under the head of' remarks,' his having observed, on various floating patches, sand, gravel, and small pebbles, is here mentioned only as one which has escaped the notice of the right reverend editor of Cook's last voyage.
• It must not be concealed that the tardy motion of the ice through the strait, and the slow rate pf the current which, we are informed by Cook, never exceeded a mile an hour? together witk the narrowness of the passage, are grave objections against an adequate supply of water being thrown into the polar basin, to furnish the perpetual current which sets out pf it into the Atlantic :—objections which, we apprehend, the additional aid of all the great rivers of Siberia and America, and the melting of the ice in the summer months, will hardly be thought sufficient to remove, without having recourse to some such hypoth.esis as that suggested jn a former Article, of a rush of water from the Pacific, under the ice, whenever it presents what our charts are pleased to call an * impenetrable barrier.' That this is really the fact we infer from what happens in Davis's Strait, where it has frequently been observed that an ice-berg, apparently fixed in the midst of a field of ice, will break through it, and move along in a contrary direction to the field ice, to the wind, and to the upper current. This is a fact known to thousands, and is particularly noticed by that intelligent naturalist and missionary, Fabricius;—' It is truly surprizing (he says) to observe the rapidity with which a mountain of ice will sometimes move even against the wind; the reason of which is, that the base, sinking deeply into the water, is acted upon by the current below with greater force than the wind can exert on the smaller part above the surface; and this is the case even when the upper current, caused by the wind, runs in a different direction to that below;' ' and thus,' he continues, 'from the bases of ice-bergs being of different depths, one may conceive how it is that one mountain moves along with greater velocity than another, or even in an opposite direction.' Here then is the mystery solved; the field-ice, by blocking up the surface of Behring's Strait, may cause the stagnation of the superficial current and force the water to rush beneath it into the polar basin, as we have already stated, without being observed on the surface.
We have but few lights to guide us in tracing this current through the unknown arctic sea or polar basin; but those few are favourable to our hypothesis. From the diverging of the two continents it will necessarily take the direction of both; of that which flows along the northern coast of America we literally know nothing; but the current which comes down Davis's Strait must either have ranged that coast, or originated in the polar sea, or, which is the least likely of all, in a close bay. On the northern coast of Siberia, however, a fact or two may be found in favour of the hypothesis. Shalaurof, in his voyage from the mouth of the Lena, eastward, or towards Behring's Strait, was stopped in his progress when opposite the Kovyma by an opposing current setting westerly, at the rate of a verst an hour, and carrying with it large bodies of floating ice.* Near the island of Sabadei he made his vessel fast to the ice, and found that he was carried along with it to the westward by a current setting at the rate of five versts an hour; and it is further stated, as something remarkable, that, on his return to the Lena,' he found the currents settmg almost uniformly from the eastwardf—that is to say, from Behring's Strait towards the Atlantic. Approaching nearer to the opening into this latter ocean, we find, from the accounts of
* Russian Discoveries.—p. S29. f Ibid.—391.
the the old navigators, that a current was perceived to set from the northern part of JSova Zembla, and from Wygat Strait towards Spitzbergen; and from Spitzbergen it is well known to all the Whale fishers that it invariably sets to the south-west, and determines the general position of the ice in this sea, from which such Stupendous fields have recently broke loose, and disappeared in the warmer temperature of the Atlantic.
Having thus traced the waters of the Pacific through Behring's Strait, along the two shores of the polar basin, down Davis's Strait and the sea of Spitzbergen into the Atlantic;—and having, besides, in a former Article, noticed the passage of ice-bergs and ice-fields, of wounded whales and drift-wood, as further proofs of a northern communication between the Pacific and the Atlantic;—it remains only to state a few additional facts, which, in our opinion, still more strongly favour the hypothesis of such a communication.
Fabricius, who resided several years in Greenland, and collected many valuable facts, mentions, among others, the following curious circumstance which occurred while he was there: 'A Greenlander,' says he,' brought to me one day from the floating ice the skull, hoofs and hairs of a beast of the ox genus, which h?d probably been devoured by a bear.' He then proceeds to describe every part with great minuteness, and observes, that it appeared to him to be that species of wild ox which best answers the description of the bos grunniens of Linnaeus, or the yak or Tartaric cow peculiar to northern Asia; and as this notion fell in with his theory of currents from the earth's motion, long since exploded, he concludes that it must have floated on the ice all the way from Tartary, round Spitzbergen, and up Davis's Strait with the eddy current, which is known to set for a little distance round Cape Farewell. Fortunately he has given a figure of this animal in his Fauna Gronlandica, from which it is quite evident that it is not the Asiatic bos grunniens, but the American species bos moschatus, or the musk ox, which frequents the northern shores of that continent, and which was then unknown to Fabricius, who otherwise could scarcely have failed to assign, as the vehicle of this animal, the West Ice, as he calls those fields and islands which are brought down from the north-west.
The principal part of the drift-wood thrown upon the northern shores of Spitzbergen* and Iceland and the western coast of OW Greenland, being equally the produce of North America and northern Asia add Europe, may have floated down the rivers of those
. * On an island near the norther* extremity of Spitzbergen, fir trees were found seventy feet long, which had been torn up by the roots. Others had been cut down with the axe, and notched for twelve-feet lengths; not the least decayed, nor the strokes »f the hatchet in the least effaced.—Phipfs's Voyage towards the North Pole, p. 58.
.continents into the polar basm; but this could not be the case with regard to the logs perforated by the sea-worm, an animal which operates only in a warm climate.* We have not been able to trace "the camphor wood beyond the Aleutian islands, but its having reached that high latitude may assist in explaining another fact in favour of a circumvolving current. The governor of the Danish -settlement of Disco, on the west coast of Old Greenland, is possessed of a mahogany table made out of a plank which was drifted thither by the southerly current; not far from the same place there was also taken up a tree of logwood. These products of the isthmus which connects the two Americas could only reach the spot on which they were found by the way of Behring's Strait, along the coast of America, and down Baffin's .sea. . Had they floated into the gulf of Mexico, they might have been carried by the gulf-stream to the banks of Newfoundland, and from thence to any part of Europe, from the coast of Norway to the strait of Gibraltar; but by no possibility could they pass up the coast of Labrador into Davis's Strait in the very teeth of a current which we shall presently prove to be perpetual. - Equally difficult would it be to explain, in any other way, the situation of another log of mahogany picked up by Admiral Lowenorn in 17S6, when sent out to re-discover the east coast of Old Greenland. From the admiral's manuscript journal in our possession, it appears that in lat. 65° 11', long. 35° 8' W. of Paris, the land then in sight, at the distance of about sixty miles, but the intermediate space covered apparently with fields and mountains of ice, he discovered a floating log of wood of such enormous size that they were unable to hoist it on board, until they had sawn it in two. Some sea gulls were perched on this log. 'It was a remarkable circumstance,' says the admiral,'' thatit was mahogany-wood, which is generally too heavy to float in water, but the wood .in question was so much perforated by the worms, to the very centre, that its specific gravity might probably have been diminished.' The situation in which the mahogany was discovered was far more 'remarkable' than its swimming. The current was invariably found (as it always has been) setting from the north-east and parallel to the coast of Greenland; and if the log in question was not brought down from the arctic sea by the same current which brings so much drift-wood to the shores of Spitzbergen, Green
* One of the grounds assigned by Wood for his attempting the discovery of a northeast passage was that Goulden told him all the drift-wood found on the shores of Greenland (Spitzbergen) was eaten to the very heart by the sea-worm, and that it must therefore have come from a hot country—' from Jedzo, Japan, or some country thereabouts.' Harris's Voyages.