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64

POWER OF ADAPTATION TO COLD.

striking. Persons looked wild, spoke indistinctly, and made irrational answers, so much so, that it was difficult to believe that they had not been drinking, so much does the state resembles that of stupid intoxication ; torpor, drowsiness, and the fatal sleep of death follow the further continuance of the cold.

It is generally supposed by those who have not experienced the effects produced upon the feelings by the various alterations in the temperature when the thermometer is low, that a change of 10° or 15° makes no sensible difference in the sensation of cold; but this is by no means the case, for it was a remark continually made that our bodies appeared to adapt themselves so readily to the climate, that after living for some days in a temperature of 15° or 20° below zero, it felt quite mild and comfortable when the thermometer rose to zero, and vice versa.

On November 29th and 30th, we were occupied at night from five to seven hours in taking lunar distances in the open air, the thermometer being 36° below zero, and this we did without any material inconvenience as long as the weather continued calm, or nearly so. And we find February 22nd fine and clear, the thermometer 34° below zero in the shade, and 23° below zero in the sun; the walking was unusually pleasant. This is certainly a degree of pleasure we should not have anticipated.

These facts are given as wonderful illustrations of the power

of the human frame to adapt itself to every and any condition of the atmosphere. And they display

CONDENSATION OF THE VAPOUR IN THE SHIP.

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the unutterable beneficence of God, who has so tempered the elements, and ordained that happiness and comfort may be, and is, found in every region and climate of the globe, of which this at Melville Island must be considered as among the most rigorous and severe.

A gale of wind, from whatever quarter it might blow, was almost invariably found to raise the thermometer several degrees, even when it came from the north as much as 14°. An E., S.E., or E.S.E. wind causes the thermometer to rise 40°, which produces a great deal of annoyance by the dampness from the ice thawing in every crevice.

I presume to differ somewhat from this, supposing the moisture or vapour of the warm S.E. wind is deposited upon

upon the cold

the cold surfaces, as is stated, that whenever a blanket was brought on deck and suffered to remain there for a short time exposed to the air at the temperature of zero, or under, the immediate consequence, on taking the blanket again into the inhabited parts of the ship, was that the vapour settled and condensed upon it-rendering it almost instantly so wet as to be unfit to sleep on. Hence, everything had to be aired and dried upon lines between decks.

The quantity of ice collected on the Hecla's lower deck, upon the ship's sides, from the condensation of the men's breath and the steam of their victuals during meals, amounted to the enormous quantity of six hundred gallons in four weeks only.

On Christmas day the weather was raw and cold, with considerable snow drift, and we marked the day

66

DIFFERENCE OF SENSATION OF COLD.

in the best manner possible by drinking the health of all our friends in England. A piece of English roast beef, which formed part of the officer's dinner, had been on board since the preceding May, and preserved, without salt, during that period, merely by the antiseptic properties of a cold atmosphere.

January 7th, 1820, was one of the most severe days to the feeling which we experienced during the winter, the wind strong from the north, with a heavy snowdrift, the thermometer from 38° to 40° below zero. It is impossible to conceive anything more inclement than such a day, for we could with difficulty pass between the two ships. January 11th, the thermometer 49° below zero, but being calm, we walked on shore an hour without inconvenience, the sensation of cold depending much more on the degree of wind at the time, than on the absolute temperature.

Mr. Howard remarks that the winter of 1819–20 ended with the deep snow of February 20th, followed by a thaw on February 21st and 22nd.

Captain Parry remarks :-“ On February 22nd the weather fine and clear, and though the thermometer was 36° below zero, and only rose to 23° below zero, in the sun at 2 P.M., the walking was unusually pleasant to our feelings. The 6th of March was the first day to which we could attach the idea of spring, and the thermometer rose up to zero, being the first time we had registered so high a temperature since December the 17th.”

The depth of ice found in the middle of the harbour

THE END OF THE WINTER OF 253 DAYS.

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on 25 feet depth of water was 6 feet. And the depth of snow on it eight inches, a fair average.

April 30th, 1820. The thermometer rose to the thawing points, an event which had not occurred for the last eight months.

May 22nd. We had the satisfaction of being able to fill a pint bottle with water from a small pool of melted snow, the first time for the last eight months. In England, May 22nd was the hottest day, and the warm period occurred at the same time.

May 24th. The clouds had a watery appearance, and at half-past eight in the evening we had the satisfaction of being surprised by a sharp shower of rain, which was a matter of such considerable curiosity, that every person on board hastened on deck to witness so interesting a phenomenon. And the winter may be said to have ended this day, having lasted from September 14th, or 253 days.

The small amount of the range of temperature in summer at Melville Island offers a very remarkable contrast to the great summer range at London. From May to October, the range at London is considerably more than at Melville Island, and in June double ; but in the winter months, the range of temperature is far greater at Melville Island than at London. The monthly fluctuations in the aggregate are greater at London than at Melville Island, showing the fact that ours is indeed a very variable climate in respect to temperature; but, happily, the balance is on the warmth.

68

DEGREE OF LIGHT ON THE SHORTEST DAY.

LIGHT AT MELVILLE ISLAND. The 4th of November, being the last day that the sun would, independently of the effects of refraction, be seen above our horizon till the 8th of February—an interval of ninety-six days. But though we were not permitted to take a last farewell for at least three months of that cheering “orb of this great world both eye and soul”— we nevertheless felt that this day constituted an important and memorable epoch in our voyage. On November 11th the sun was seen from the mast-head. The 18th of November, at noon, Capella, a star of the first magnitude, was seen.

December 22nd. We had now reached the shortest day, and were surprised to find the quickness with which it had come upon us. The return of each successive day had always been very decidedly marked by a considerable twilight for some time about noon, that on the shortest day we were enabled to walk out very comfortably for nearly two hours. There was usually, in clear weather, a beautiful arch of bright red light overspreading the southern hemisphere for an hour or two before and after noon. Short as the day now was, if indeed any part could properly be called day, the reflection of light from the snow, occasionally aided by a bright moon, was at all times sufficient to prevent our experiencing, even under the most unfavourable circumstances, anything like the gloomy night which occurs in the more temperate regions. It will perhaps give the best idea of the sun's light afforded us on the shortest

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