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as the titles of their books and all the charts assert, the existence of a passage would amount nearly to a certainty. The distance between Baffin's Sea and Behring's Strait is not more than 1,200 miles, of which that between the mouths of the Mackenzie and Copper-mine rivers is about 400. On the charts the mouths of these rivers are nearly on the same parallel of latitude, i. e. about 69°. Now there can be but little doubt that the two continents of America and Asia have once been united, the trending of the coast of the latter continuing on the opposite side of Behring's Strait for more than 1000 miles nearly in the same line. On the American side, no land has been seen to the northward of the Icy Cape, and none between it and Cape Lisburne; Icy Cape is very low land, the Russians, whose regular establishments on the American continent extend as far north as 67° north lat. say that it is an island; and so strong is the impression at Petersburgh of a practicable passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic, round the northern coast of America, that Count Romanzoff, at his own expense, has fitted out a stout vessel called the Rurick, commanded by Lieut. Kotzebue, son of the celebrated writer of that name, to make the attempt. She passed Plymouth last summer, where she was supplied with a life-boat, and during the summer of the present year, she is to endeavour to penetrate into the northern sea between Icy Cape and Cape Lisburne, or, on meeting with any impediment, to proceed round the former: it will be a singular event if the last, and we may almost say least of the maritime powers of Europe, should be the first to make this important discovery-so often attempted before she had a single ship on the ocean.

Thus then the coast of America may be presumed to preserve a line from Behring's Strait to Mackenzie's River, and from thence to Copper-mine River, a distance of 800 miles, fluctuating between the parallels of 69° and 70°, and we see not the slightest reason to question its continuance, in or near that line, for the remaining 400 miles to Baffin's Sea, or to the strait which connects it with Hudson's Sea: this is the only point to be discovered.-No human being has yet approached the coast of America, on the eastern side, from 66° to 70°. Davies, Baffin, and Foxe came nearest to it; but the attempts of the rest were chiefly confined to the southward. Middleton was in the way of making discoveries, if, instead of losing his time in Wager River, he had continued to coast to the northward, The solution of this important problem is the business of three months out and home. The space to be examined, at the very

if he did so, he is uncandid in not mentioning the result--if he did not, he is woefully deficient in that sagacity which has always been accounted a prominent feature in the character of a North-Briton. Under all the circumstances mentioned by these two travellers, we may perhaps conclude that both were near the sea-shore, but neither of them reached it.

utmost

utmost, is from the 67th to the 71st parallels, or four degrees of latitude.

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Two small schooners of 80 or 100 tons, under the command of a skilful Naval Officer, with a couple of Greenland fishermen to act as pilots through the ice, would be sufficient for the purpose, They should proceed at once up the very middle of Davis's Strait, keeping to the westward so as not to raise their latitude higher than 72°, and having cleared Cumberland Island, edge away to the southward. Hitherto most of our adventurers have worked their way through Hudson's Strait, which is generally choked up with ice; then standing to the northward they have had to contend with ice drifting to the southward, with contrary winds and currents; these inconveniences would be obviated by standing first to the latitudes of 71° or 72° and from thence southerly and westerly till they either reached Hudson's Bay, which would decide the question in the negative, or till they saw the north coast of America, which would go far to complete the discovery.

Disappointment is generally fertile in apologies for failures; we need not therefore be surprized if we find some assert that no such passage exists, and others pronounce its inutility if it should be discovered, from the uncertainty of its being free from ice any one year, and perhaps practicable only once in three or four years. Such an apology for our present ignorance of every thing that regards the geography, the hydrography, and meteorology of the north-eastern shores of America, might be pleaded by mercantile speculators, but can have little weight with those who have the interests of science at heart, or the national honour and fame, which are intimately connected with those interests. When the government offered a reward of £20,000 for the discovery of the Northwest Passage, and £5000 to him who should approach within one degree of the North Pole, it was not with a view to any immediate commercial advantages that this liberal encouragement was held out, but with the same expanded object that sent Cook in search of a Southern Continent.' If, however, the continent of America shall be found to terminate, as is most likely, about the 70th degree of latitude, or even below it, we have little doubt of a free and practicable passage round it for seven or eight months in every year; and we are much mistaken if the North-west Company would not derive immediate and incalculable advantages from a passage of three months to their establishment in Columbia River, instead of the circuitous voyage of six or seven mouths round Cape Horn; to say nothing of the benefit which might be derived from taking in their cargoes of furs and peltry for the China market at the mouths of Mackenzie and Copper-mine rivers, to which the northern Indians would be too happy to bring them, if protected

by

by European establishments, at these or other places, from their enemies the Esquimaux.

The polar regions of the globe within the arctic circle offer a wide field for the researches of a philosophic mind; yet, in point of science, very little is known beyond what is contained in the account of Captain Phipps's voyage to the neighbourhood of Spitzbergen. The natural history, though the best, is still but imperfectly known; the sea and land swarm with animals in these abodes of ice and snow, and multitudes of both yet remain to be discovered and described. It is an important object to obtain more accurate observations on those huge mountains of ice which float on the sea; it is no longer a question that the field or flaked ice is frozen sea-water, though itself perfectly fresh; and it is almost as certain, though doubted by some, that the huge masses which the Dutch call icebergs, are formed on the steep and precipitous shores, from whence those thunderbolts of snow' are occasionally hurled into the deep, bearing with them fragments of earth and stones. 'I came,' says Foxe, by one piece of ice higher than the rest, whereupon a stone was of the contents of five or six tonne weight, with divers other smaller stones and mud thereon.'

"

It is a common but we believe an erroneous opinion, that the temperature of our climate has regularly been diminishing, and that it is owing to the ice having permanently fixed itself to the shores of Greenland, which, in consequence, from being once a flourishing colony of Denmark, is now become uninhabitable and unapproachable. We doubt both the fact and the inference. It is not the climate that has altered, but we who feel it more severe as we advance in years; the registers of the absolute degree of temperature, as measured by the thermometer, do not warrant any such conclusion; and more attempts than one to land on the coast of Greenland must be made, before we can give credit to its being bound up in eternal ice--which is known to shift about with every gale of wind-to be drifted by currents-and to crumble and consume below the surface of the water. We suspect indeed, that the summer heat, which in the latitude SO° Phipps found to be on the average of the month of July at 42° of Fahrenheit, during the whole twentyfour hours, and once, when exposed to the sun, as high as 8630, dissolves fully as much of the ice and snow on the surface of the sea as the preceding winter may have formed.* It appears too, that

* In the Transactions of the Wernerian Society are published several Meteorological Journals of Mr. Scoresby, a whale-fisher of Hull, which, compared with that of Phipps, would seem to sanction the idea of a decreasing temperature, the average height of the thermometer, in the months of July in 1811 and 1812, being only about 33°, and very often below the freezing point, though in a lower latitude by three degrees than that in which Captain Phipps observed it; but the fishing vessels penetrate the fields of ice, the open spaces of which are frequented by whales; and there can be no doubt this diminished temperature is owing to their being in the midst of an atmosphere chilled by the surrounding ice.

there

6

there are times in the depth of winter when the temperature is exceedingly mild; and the intense frosts are undoubtedly moderated by the caloric given out from the Aurora borealis, which in these regions affords not only an admirable compensation for the short absence of the moon, but imparts a considerable degree of warmth to the lower regions of the atmosphere, filling the whole circle of the horizon, and approaching so near the surface of the globe as to be distinctly heard in varying their colours and positions. I have frequently,' says Hearne, heard them making a rustling and crackling noise, like the waving of a large flag in a fresh gale of wind.' The electric aura, it is well known, will raise the mercury in the tube of the thermometer, but no experiments have been made to ascertain the degree of heat given out by these henbanes or petty dancers, as Foxe calls them, which must be very considerable; as Button says, the stream in the element is like the flame that cometh forth from the mouth of a hot oven.' Almost every voyager into Hudson's and Baffin's seas complains of the occasional hot weather, and the great annoyance of mosquitoes on the shores. Duncan, when surrounded with ice, had the thermometer in August at 56° in the shade, and 82° in the sun. Yet the cold in winter is more intense than they have yet been able to measure either by a mercurial or spirit thermometer. It is a well established fact, that on the eastern sides of great continents, the temperature is greatly below that in the same degree of latitude on the western sides: thus, while the whole of Hudson's Bay, the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland, down to 46° may be said. to be, in winter, one mass of ice, not a particle of ice was ever seen in the sea on the western side of America, to the southward of 64° or 65°. The delicate humming-bird is not uncommon at Nootka, and was seen by Mackenzie at Peace River, in latitude 54° 24. The cold of Halifax, in latitude 44° 40′, is much more intense than that of London in 51°. Pekin, in less than latitude 40°, has generally a constant frost for three months every year; and ice, the thickness of a dollar, is not uncommon at Canton, under the tropics. On the coast of Jesso, in latitude 45°24′, Captain Krusenstern found the ground covered with snow in the middle of May, and vegetation more backward than at Archangel, in latitude 641°, in the middle of April.

Some of our old navigators ascribed the great variation and irregularity of the magnetic needle in Hudson and Baffin's Scas, to the effects of cold;* and others to the attraction of particular

Foxe observed that the needle near Nottingham Island had lost its powers, which, among other things, he ascribed to the cold air interposed between the needle and the point of its attraction Ellis conceived the cold to be the cause of the irregular action of the needle, and he says, that the compasses on being brought into a warm place recovered their action and proper direction.

islands.

1

islands. In the northern regions, near Spitzbergen, Phipps observed nothing remarkable in the variation of the needle, but Baffin found it at 5 points, or 56, a thing almost incredible, and almost matchless in all the world besides.' Duncan supposed the needle to be attracted by Charles's Island, as the variation amounted to 63° 51', nearly 6 points; and on the same parallel, when the island was out of sight, only 45° 22′; and he states, that when near Merry and Jones's Islands, in a violent storm of thunder, lightning and heavy rain, the night being very dark and dismal, all the compasses in the ship were running round, and so unsteady, that they could: not trust one moment to the course they were steering.

Many other meteorological phenomena peculiar to these regions afford curious matter for investigation; but our geographical knowledge of every part of Hudson's and Baffin's seas is most defective. We need only cast an eye over the different charts made by Arrowsmith, from 1793 to 1811, no two of which are alike— large islands being inserted in some and omitted in others—the north-eastern side of the continent is, in one, cut into islands-in another, islands are joined to the continent-here a strait is filled up-there another opened-in short

Vidi ego quod fuerat quondam solidissima tellus
Esse fretum. Vidi factas ex æquore terras'-

These flourishes ad libitum (for not one iota of additional information of the northern parts has been received for the last sixty years) are not very commendable, in a geographical point of view; and in the absence of all knowledge, we should deem it preferable to leave blank (as Purdey has left Baffin's Sea in his General Chart) those coasts and islands which fancy only has created.

ART. IX.-1. Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto III. Svo. 2. The Prisoner of Chillon, a Dream; and other Poems. By Lord Byron. 8vo. John Murray: London.

WE E have felt ourselves very much affected by the perusal of these poems, nor can we suppose that we are singular in our feelings. Other poets have given us their literary productions as the subject of criticism, impersonally as it were, and generally speaking, abstracted from their ordinary habits and feelings; and all, or almost all, might apply to their poetical effusions, though in somewhat a different sense, the l'envoy of Ovid.

Sine me, Liber, ibis in urbem.

The work of the poet is indeed before the public, but the character, the habits of the author, the events of his life and the motives of his writing, are known but to the small circle of literary gossips, for whose curiosity no food is too insipid. From such, indeed,

those

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