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hope of farther progress at present. Thus once more baffled in our fondest wishes, we had to despatch parties in various directions to obtain farther information respecting the neighbouring lands, and asccertain if our efforts could be more advantageously employed elsewhere; but after many days spent in this way, we only discovered that the inlet we then occupied was, as it before appeared, a direct communication with the polar sea, and the only one to the southward of Cockburn Island, which was of too great extent to leave a chance of our getting round it this season, even if we should abandon the strait. Upon the whole, therefore, it was evident that the only thing to be done was to remain in our present station, and watch the progress of the ice during the short remainder of the season. The westernmost of the two islands is named after Lord Amherst, and the eastern one after Lieut. Liddon. Our station between the two was in lat. 69 d. 48 m. 10 s., long. 83 d. 29 m. 27 s.; dip of mag. needle, 88 d. 21 m. 21 s., var. 891 westerly.
By the end of the first week in September, symptoms of approaching winter were indicated by the fall of the thermometer to 19 and 20 of Fahrenheit's scale, and a quantity of young ice formed round the ships every night, while the pools on the fixed barrier of ice became frozen over, so as to enable our parties to walk upon it without danger. Notwithstanding these discouraging circumstances, our hopes were still kept up by the daily breaking off and drifting away of large masses from the margin of the floe; and on the 14th, after an easterly wind had blown for 24 hours, we were elated, beyond measure, by observing a clear space of water four or five miles in breadth, immediately to the westward of Amherst Island, beyond which the ice was evidently all in motion, and the_really-fixed-barrier reduced therefore to a couple of miles. Late as the season was, we were eager to believe our release at hand, but this delusive expectation was of short continuance. In a few hours the wind declined in strength, and by the 15th, had veered round to the westward, back to its former position.
On the 18th, the thermometer did not rise higher than 16 d., the young ice formed with great rapidity, and to a considerable thickness round the ships, and the cracks in the “old” ice became so firmly cemented together, that scarcely a hope could now remain of its opening a passage for us this season; and the important consideration of the probable lateness of our detention, in the event of our being frozen up in this confined strait, naturally pressed itself with the seriousness which the subject demanded. Capt. Parry consulted the senior officer of
the expedition, and it being the prevailing opinion that no advantage could possibly accrue, while much time might be lost in the spring by wintering in the strait, it was determined to run a few miles back to the eastward, with the view, should the season still permit, of examining more of the coast to the northward and eastward, and eventually to look out for some place in the neighbourhood of Igloolik, which might afford security for the winter. This measure being determined upon, no time was to be lost in putting it into execution, as the increased accumulation of young ice already presented a serious obstacle. Accordingly, on the morning of the 19th, we cast off and made sail; but such was the consistence of the ice around us, that we were upwards of five hours advancing the first three hundred yards. We then got into clear water, and reaching the east end of Liddon Island by 7 P. M., anchored there for the night. At daylight on the 20th, we again proceeded to the eastward, and made tolerable progress, until we had got within a couple of miles of Cape North East, where the newly-formed ice had accumulated in such quantities, that our progress was almost altogether stopped. By dint, however, of keeping two boats ahead to break up the ice, and by constantly "sallying" the ship, we succeeded in forcing our way a little ahead every now and then, and at 5 P. M., after ten hours hard labour in this way, we passed Cape North East, and immediately got into clear water. We laid to during a squally night, and in the morning again made sail to the eastward; but we had not advanced many leagues, before the wind had increased to a gale, and a heavy sea getting up, we were forced to anchor under the lee of a small island named Tem Island in the chart. Here we lost one of our anchors, and for several days were much harassed by a continuance of tempestuous weather, which, with the rapidly increasing length of the nights, and the low temperature of the atmosphere, rendered it highly dangerous and imprudent to attempt keeping the sea any longer. On the morning of the 24th, therefore, we stood over to Igloolik, and at 2 P. M., anchored off the south end of the island, where we found the Esquimaux established in their winter habitations.
Thus were we at the end of our second season's navigation; only two hundred miles in advance of our former winter quar ters; a circumstance which, viewed in connexion with our remaining resources, afforded no very consolatory prospect respecting the final result of our endeavours. It is true, that the northern boundary of America, hitherto considered as the key to the northwest passage, had been discovered by us.-That we had
there found the very outlet to the polar sea which had been hoped for; and, in short, it may be said that we had reached the turnpike gate, leading from the Atlantic to the Pacific.— But as far as the experience of one season goes, that gate appears shut against us, by an obstacle totally unlooked for; inasmuch as it is the first instance, in our experience of the arctic regions, that ice has remained fixed to the shores during the whole navigable season; whether this barrier was only the consequence of an unfavourable season, or whether it seldom happens that the strait becomes clear, requires farther experience to determine. But be this as it may, it was but too evident that with only one year's provisions, no hope of completing the voyage could remain to us. The only way in which our resources could be extended, was by sending the Hecla to England, taking from her as much provisions as she could part with, and then to prosecute the voyage singly. This measure Captain Parry determined upon, and early in the spring communicated his intentions to the ship's companies. By this arrangement, and by adopting a system of economy during the winter, the Fury's provisions will last to the end of the year 1825; so that we cannot but consider ourselves as still effective, although the experience of last season has served materially to diminish our expectation of eventual success. If the strait opens to us at the commencement of the forth-coming summer, a reasonable hope may still be entertained; but if, as we have too much reason to fear, this should not be the case, and we find ourselves compelled to abandon the strait, and such a passage to the northward of Cockburn island, I confess, that there appears to me no other prospect than that of returning unsuccessful, after passing another winter in these regions. So much for my own opinion: I must add, however, that there is some consolation in believing that no exertion has been wanting on our part, and that we shall persevere in the endeavour, as long as the slightest hope remains to us of finally accomplishing our enterprise. Although the young ice continued to form round the ships, immediately after their arrival at Igloolik, yet frequent partial disruptions prevented our being settled till the end of October. In the early part of that month, we were several times in danger of being drifted out to sea, by the ice dragging the anchors along the ground, for a mile or two at a time; and then, at length, it became fixed for the winter. We were obliged to cut a canal, of nearly a mile, to get the Fury placed sufficiently near the shore, to enable Mr. Fisher to conduct his experiments and observations. Near the Hecla, the
ice had been so squeezed up and packed together, that all attempts to remove her proved ineffectual; we were, consequently, obliged to winter at a mile distant. This cir cumstance prevented our being able to resume theatrical entertainments, hitherto found so useful in affording the men amusement; but the constant variety presented in our daily intercourse with the Esquimaux, left nothing to regret on this account; and with the assistance of the school, to which the men gladly returned, the winter passed as free from tœdium as we could hope for.
In writing this little narrative, I have forborne to say any thing of the habits of the Esquimaux, because I feel it would be impossible to do so, without entering into detail far beyond the reasonable limits of a letter; but the opportunity we have had of becoming acquainted with the habits of these people, will furnish much interesting matter for the narrative of the voyage. I cannot, however, pass over in silence the extraordinary mortality that prevailed among them during the winter. Their complaints were, I believe, all of an inflammatory nature, and although we built a hospital for their reception, and our medical gentlemen did all that could be effected for their relief, not less than one tenth of the whole population died during our sojourn at Igloolik !—most of them in the prime and vigour of life, and several under circumstances of aggravated distress and misery. It will be seen by the annexed meteorological abstract,* that 45 degrees below zero was the minimum temperature we experienced, and that the winter altogether, was a remarkably mild one. In the months of January and February, in particular, we were two or three times surprised into the expectation of a thaw, and the atmosphere was filled with thick clouds, such as we had never before seen in the winter of these regions. On the second of December the sun set to us for a period of six weeks: but on the shortest day, we had three hours of perfect daylight; and sufficient for walking by, for a very considerable time longer. The aurora borealis scarcely ever made its appearance; nor had we any other meteorological phenomena worthy of recording. The latitude of our winter station at Igloolik, is 69 d. 20 m. 51 s., and the long. 81 d. 52 m. 33 s. The dip of the magnetic needle 88 d. 10 m. 55 s.; its variation 82 1-2 westerly.
*See the end of the article.
On the 17th April we had the melancholy task of following another of our ship mates to the grave, Mr. Elder, the mate of the Hecla, a fine active young man, not more than thirty three years of age, and who, until a fortnight before his death, was considered as possessing one of the most vigorous and robust constitutions amongst us. This man was a quarter master in the Alexander, in the voyage of 1818, when his nautical knowledge of the ice combined with his good character to recommend him to the situation of mate in the succeeding voyages. He was accordingly successively employed in the Griper and Hecla, and in both ships, his modest, amiable manners, and quiet demeanour, won for him the respect and esteem of most of the officers with whom he sailed.
One of the effects of passing a winter in these regions, is the pale, sickly countenances which all hands exhibit on the return of a proper share of day light. This is generally owing to living so much by candlelight, for a great deal of it goes off in a short time; but it is probable that the want of change, and also want of nourishment in our diet, the little exercise that can be taken for several months in the year, and the rigour of the climate during that period, has each some share in producing this and other symptoms of want of vigour, which is, more or less, felt by every individual in the expedition. Still, however, our general health is sufficiently good, to enable us, under favour of Divine Providence, to continue in this country as long as it shall be our duty to do so, without apprehending any future ill consequences; and for this we cannot be too thankful. In the early part of May, we commenced removing the provisions and stores from the Hecla. As soon as this was completed, the housing was taken off the ships, and by the middle of June they were re-equipped and ready for sea.
We had now leisure to send out parties, in quest of the animals who had by this time all returned to us. The supplies, amounting to 6 reindeer, upwards of 600 weight of salmon, and more than a thousand ducks, with a number of other birds, proved a most acceptable variety to our usual food, and were welcomed accordingly.
We naturally expected that by this time (the first of August) we should have been released from our imprisonment; but to our great mortification, there still remain full five miles of fixed ice, between us and the open water, off the entrance of the strait; and the disruption of the last fortnight has been so little, as to excite our utmost fears that a much longer detention may be experienced; in which case, the little hope we at present have must be frustrated, and we may ourselves think of reVol. I. No. II.