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the mean time I resolved to carry on both attempts together, moving the boats constantly, but without omitting any opportunity of getting the ships through.
*8th. At half past four, sent two pilots with three men to see the state of the ice to the westward, that I might judge of the probability of getting the ships out. At nine they returned, and reported the ice to be very heavy and close, consisting chiefly of large fields. Between nine and ten this morning, I set out with the people, and got the launch above three miles. The weather being foggy, and the people having worked hard, I thought it best to return on board between six and seven. The ships had in the mean time moved something through the ice, and the ice itself had drifted still more to the westward. At night there was but little wind, and a thick fog, so that I could not judge precisely of the advantage we had gained; but I still feared that, however flattering, it was not such as to justify my giving up the idea of moving the boats, the season advancing so fast, the preservation of the ships being so uncertain, and the situation of the people so critical.
«9th. A thick fog in the morning: we moved the ship a little through some very small openings. In the afternoon, upon its clearing up, we were agreeably surprised to find the ships had driven much more than we could have expected to the westward. We worked hard all day, and got them something more to the westward through the ice; but nothing in comparison to what the ice itself had drifted. We got past the launches; I sent a number of men for them, and got them on board. Between three and four in the morning the wind was westerly, and it snowed fast. The people having been much fatigued, we were obliged to desist from working for a few hours. The progress which the ships had made through the ice was, however, a very favourable event: the drift of the ice was an advantage that might be as suddenly lost, as it had been as unexpectedly gained, by a change in the current: we had experienced the inefficacy of an easterly wind when far in the bay, and under the high land; but having now got through so much of the ice, we began again
to conceive hopes that a brisk gale from that quarter would soon effectually clear us.
• 10th. The wind springing up from the N. N. E. in the morning, we set all the sail we could upon the ship, and forced her through a great deal of very heavy ice: she struck often very hard, and with one stroke broke the shank of the best bower anchor. About noon we had got her through all the ice, and out to sea. I stood to the N. W. to make the ice, and found the main body just where we left it. At three in the morning, with a good breeze easterly, we were standing to the westward, between the land and the ice, both in sight; the weather hazy.'
Next day, captain Phipps came to anchor in the bay of Smeerenberg, to refresh his people. Here were several remarkable icebergs. These,' says he, are large bodies of ice filling the vallies between the high mountains; the face towards the sea is nearly perpendicular, and of a very lively light green colour. That near the anchorage, was about 800 feet high, with a cascade of water isuing out of it. The black mountains, white snow, and beautiful colour of the ice, make a very romantic and uncommon picture. Large pieces frequently break off from the icebergs, and fall with great noise into the water : we observed one piece which had floated out into the bay, and grounded in twenty-four fathom; it was fifty feet high above the surface of the water, and of the same beautiful colour as the iceberg.'
As the season was now far advanced, and fogs and gales of wind so much to be expected, the ships, on the 22d, sailed southward; and reached Orfordness on the 24th of September.
The very interesting account which is here given by lord Mulgrave, of the ice islands which float within the polar circles, have induced many to deny the practicability of approaching the pole. Sir Hugh Willoughby perished amongst the huge masses of ice, with all his crew, in 1553, and many other navigators have been nearly destroyed by tremendous floating mountains of ice.
The forms assumed by the ice in this chilling climate are extremely pleasing to the most incurious eye. The surface of
that which is congealed from the sea-water is flat and even, hard, opaque, resembling white sugar, and incapable of being slid on. "The greater pieces or fields are many leagues in length: the lesser are called the meadows of the seals, on which, at times, those animals frolic by hundreds. The mo tion of the lesser pieces is as rapid as the currents : the greater, which are sometimes 200 leagues long, and sixty or eighty broad, move majestically. The approximation of two great fields produces a most singular phenomenon: they force smaller pieces out of the water, and add them to their own surface, till at length the whole forms an aggregate of tremendous height. They float in the sea like so many rugged mountains, and are sometimes 5 or 600 yards thick, the far greater part of which is concealed beneath the water. Those which remain in this frozen climate receive continual growth ; others are gradually wafted into southern latitudes, and melt by degrees by the heat of the suu till they waste away, and disappear in the boundless element.
The collision of the great fields of ice in high latitudes, is often attended with a noise that for a time takes away the sense of hearing any thing else; and that of the lesser with a grinding of unspeakable horror. The water which dashes against the mountainous ice freezes into an infinite variety of forms, and gives the voyager ideal towns, streets, churches, steeples, and every shape which imagination can paint.
West Greenland, which is said to extend as far as 76 deg. N. latitude, was discovered by a Norwegian, named Eric, who sailed from Iceland in quest of adventures so early as the year 982. The country from cape Farewell, in a north-westerly direction, was colonized ; but about the year 1376, the invasion of the Esquimaux, and afterwards that dreadful pestilence termed the Black Death, nearly completed the destruction of the settlers, which was finally effected in about a century afterwards.
However, the settlements which during the last 100 years, the Danes have been forming at various points on the west side of Greenland, are more numerous and thriving than those which existed at any former period. They consist of twenty
ene colonies, stretching over an extent of 800 miles. The first establishment is only a single family, occupying Bear island, a little to the east of cape Farewell. Ten other hamlets, composed chiefly of Moravians, are planted at different points, from the latitude of 60 deg. to that of 68 deg. Three settlements are distributed round Disco bay, about the latitude of 69 deg. ; and seven more have been extended thence as far as the latitude of 73 deg. But the remoter settlers are a depraved and degenerate race, consisting of Danish convicts and their progeny by the Esquimaux women, or aboriginal Greenlanders. The whole population of those settlements, including the natives themselves, does not exceed 7000; and the annual amount of their trade with Copenhagen, both in exports and imports, is only about 30,000). sterling.
The Greenlanders' dress consists principally of the skins of rein-deer, seals, and birds. Their outer garment reaches about half way down the thigh, and is sewed fast on all sides like a waggoner's frock, but not so long or so loose ; at the top of this is fastened a cap or hood, which they can draw over their heads as a defence against the wet and cold. These garments are sewed together with the sinews of rein-deer or whales, split so thin and small, that they are adapted to the finest steel needles, and with these they execute their work with surprising neatness and ingenuity.
The skins of fowls with the feathers inwards, are made into shirts, these, however, are sometimes manufactured of the skins of the rein-deer. Over the shirt is another garment, of very fine-haired rein-deer skins, which are now so scarce in Greenland, that none but the wealthy can appear in them. Seal-skins are substituted in their place, the rough side is turned outwards, and the borders and seams are ornamented with some narrow stripes of red leather and white dog-skin. Seal skins are also manufactured by different methods into drawers, stockings, and shoes ; but among the richer sort, woollen stockings, trowsers, and caps, are worn in their stead. When they travel by sea, a great coat, made of a black smooth seal's hide, rendered water-proof, covers the rest of their dress. Vol. IV.
Mothers and nurses put on a garment wide enough in the back to hold the child, which is placed in it quite naked; it is accommodated with no other swaddling clothes or cradle; and it is kept from falling through, by means of a girdle fastened about the mother's waist. Their common dress abounds with filth and vermin, but they keep their holiday garments exceedingly neat.
The Greenland men wear their hair cut short, commonly hanging down from the crown of the head on every side, and squared off at their foreheads; some of them cut it off close, that it may be no impediment to their work; but to a woman this would be a great reproach, and consequently it is never done by females but in cases of the deepest mourning, or when they resolve never to marry. They usually tie their hair in a double ringlet, in such a manner that a long broad roll or tuft, and another smaller one over it, decorate the crown of their head, which they bind with some gay bandage, adorned with glass beads. The same kind of gems they wear in their ears, round their necks and arms, and also at the borders of their clothes and shoes; but if they aim at being very beautiful, they draw a thread blackened with soot between the skins of their cheeks, chin, hands, and feet. This painful operation is frequently performed by the mother on her daughters in their childhood, lest they might otherwise never get husbands. The same custom is likewise much practised by several Indians in North America ; and hence the Greenlanders and Esquimaux Indians are supposed to have derived their origin from one common stock.
The methods and implements made use of by the Greenlanders, for procuring their maintenance, are extremely simple, but in their hands, well adapted to the purpose. In former times they made use of bows, two yards in length, for landgame, but these have long since given way to fowling-pieces. For sea-game five sorts of instruments are principally used. 1. The harpoon-dart with a bladder. 2. The great lance, which is about two yards long. 3. The little lance: these three weapons are used in the capture of seals. 4. The mis sile dart, a foot and a half in length; and 5. The hunting