« ZurückWeiter »
OF ICE OF ANY DESCRIPTION WAS TO BE SEEN.
« On the 18th the weather was remarkably fine, and the wind in the S.E. Having unfortunately broken my two thermometers, I could not exactly ascertain the temperature, but it was certainly not colder than we had found it in December (summer) in the latitude of 610. With the ship’s head S.W. by S. at 8' 30' in the morning I took a set of azimuths, which gave variation 13° 23' east. At noon our latitude by observation was 720 38', by account 720 24'; hence, with chrononieter difference of longitude, we had been set in three days S. 620 W., distance 30 miles. In the afternoon I took a long set of azimuths, which gave variation 190 58'. This increase in so short a distance seemed unsatisfactory ; on which account I neglected no opportunity of making observations in order to reconcile these irregularities. I had all the compasses brought upon deck, and I found them to agree, but rather inactive in traversing.
“ In the evening we had many whales about the ship, and the sea was literally covered with birds of the blue peterel kind. NOT A PARTICLE
The evening was wild and serene, and had it not been for the reflection that probably we should have obstacles to contend with in our passage northward, through the ice, our situation might have been envied. The wind was light and easterly during the night, and we carried all sail. The sun's amplitude in the morning of the 19th, when the ship's head was S. by E., gave variation 150 10' east.”—pp. 34, 36.
In latitude 73° 17', and longitude 35° 54' 45'', Capt. Weddell found the variation but 5° 35' east.
“In the morning of the 20th the wind shisted to the S by W. and blew a fresh breeze, and seeing a clouded horizon, and a great number of birds in the S.E., we stood in that direction. At 10 o'clock in the forenoon, when the ship’s head was E.S.E., I took a set of azimuths, which gave variation 110 20' east. The atmosphere now became very clear, and nothing like land was to be seen. Three ice islands were in sight from the deck, and one other from the mast-head. On one we perceived a great number of penguins roosted. Our latitude at this time, 20th February, 1822, was 740 15'. and longitude 34° 16' 45''; the wind blowing fresh at south, prevented, what I most desired, our making farther progress in that direction. I would willingly have explored the S.W. quarter, but taking into consideration the lateness of the season, and that we had to pass homewards through 1000 miles of sea strewed with ice islands, with long nights, and probably attended with fogs, I could not determine otherwise than to take advantage of this favourable wind for returning.
“I much regretted that circumstances had not allowed me to proceed to the southward, when in the latitude of 65°, on the 27th of January, as I should then have had sufficient time to examine this sea to my satisfaction.”—pp. 36, 37.
The author was not, however, inattentive to the phenomena of this hitherto unexplored region, although not well provided with instruments for making scientific observations. In speaking of the observations made by him, with regard to the variation of the needle, and inserted in the tables at the end of the volume, he says,
“ Those which I made about the latitude of 60 degrees, are corrected for local attraction from the table of experiments made with Mr. Barlow's
plate, in H. M. S. Conway, by Captain Basil Hall, and by Mr. Foster ; but the observations arrived at about the latitude of 70 degrees cannot be reconciled, as to quantity of local attraction with the theory adopted on the subject; I therefore let them remai.. at the observed results. I found a difference of from 3 to 5 degrees between the variation taken at the binnacle and that on the main hatches; and I have found as great a difference when the observations were made, even on the same spot, an hour apart. In fact, it appeared evident that the magnetic energy of the earth upon the needle was much diminished when far to the southward; partly arising, no doubt, from the increased dip or diminution of horizontal action on the needle, which must be attracted in an increased degree by objects immediately about it This, however, cannot be altogether decided till a more satisfactory theory in respect to the emanation of the magnetic influence has been demonstrated.”—pp. 38, 39.
Capt. Weddell was not able to observe any appearances of the Aurora Australis, seen by Mr. Foster in his voyage round the world with Captain Cook, in 1773. Nor did he notice any remarkable distortion of visible objects by refraction, so often seen in high northern latitudes. The absence of this phenomenon he ascribes to this sea being clear of field ice. If he is right in this suggestion, the same phenomenon should have occurred in a very extraordinary degree in sixty one degrees of south latitude, in the neighbourhood of South Shetland, where Captain Weddell, in the course of his voyage, found the fieldice stretching for leagues around the coast. He says nothing, however, of the existence of these appearances in that quarter, which he would have hardly failed to do had he observed them, inasmuch as such a fact would have nearly proved the truth of his theory. There is more probability in his method of accounting for the origin of this kind of ice.
“It distinctly appears to me, that the conjecture of Captain Cook, that field ice is formed and proceeds from land, and is not formed in the open sea, is true.' He latterly, however, changes his opinion, from having found ice solid in field in the latitude of 70 degrees to the northward of Bhering's Straits. But I think it likely that the ice he fell in with there proceeded from land in the north, not more distant, perhaps, than 150 miles No person can doubt the probability of my conjecture, when it is remembered, that in the latitude of 740 15' south, (which, according to the received opinion of former navigators, that the southern hemisphere is proportionably colder by 10 degrees of latitude than the northern, would be equal to 84° 15' north,) I found a sea perfectly clear of field ice; whereas in the latitude of 61° 30', about 100 miles from the land, I was beset in heavy packed ice. As in that situation we could not see the land, had I not known of the existence of South Shetland, I might have fallen into the commonly received error, that this ice proceeded continuously from the South Pole. If, therefore, no land exist to the south of the latitude at which I arrived, viz. seventy-four degrees, fifteen minutes,-being three degrees and five minutes, or 214 geographical miles farther south than Captain Cook, or any preceding navigator, reached, how is it possible that the South Pole should not be more attainable than the North, about which we know there lies a great deal of land ?
“The excessive cold of the southern hemisphere bas been variously accounted for, every philosopher adopting that theory which best suited his own hydrographical system. Saint Pierre supposes it to proceed from a cupola of ice surrounding the South Pole, and stretching far northward. We have now better data to go upon; for though great exentions were used in the years 1773 and 1774 to discover the terra aus. tralis incognita without success, yet we find there is a range of land lying as far north as the latitude of 61 degrees. We may also conjecture, without much fear of being in the wrong, that the land with which we are acquainted, lying in latitude of 61 degrees, and in longitude 54° 30', nainely, the east end of South Shetland, stretches to the W.S.W., beyond the kingitude in which Captain Cook penetrated to the latitude of 71° 10'. It is this land which, no doubt, ouglit to be looked upon as the source from which proceeds the excessive cold of these regions. The temperature of air and water in the latitude of 60 and 61 degrees, I have mentioned to be but little above the freezing point. The cold earthless land, and its immense islands, which are continually separating in the summer, and are made, by prevailing westerly winds, almost to girdle the earth, is evidently the cause of the very low temperature which prevails.
“T'he part of the country which I have seen is without soil, reared in columns of impenetrable rock, enclosing and producing large masses of ice, even in the low latitude of 600 45'.
“ It is certain that ice islands are formed only in openings or recesses of land; and field ice, I think, is not readily formed in a deep sea.
« On soundings, the water is soon cooled down to the freezing point; hence field ice is found at the distance of many miles from any shore. These considerations induce me to conclude, that from having but three ice islands in sight, in latitude 74 degrees, the range of land, of which I have spoken, does not extend more southerly than the 73d degree. If this be true, and if there be no more land to the southward, the antarctic polar sea may be found less icy than is imagined, and a clear field of discovery, even to the South Pole, may therefore be anticipated.”-pp. 40-43.
The observations of the writer, taken in connexion with those of preceding navigators, tend to confirm the theory of MalteBrun, that the ice produced in winter within the antarctic circle is carried northerly by a current from the pole, till it forms an icy belt about the earth, the outer edge of which is near the sixty-first degree of north latitude, leaving the region about the pole nearly clear of ice during the summer. Independent of the fact that Captain Weddell found an open sea in the 74th degree of latitude, the existence of such a current is rendered somewhat probable from the circumstance that in sailing towards the pole, he found himself, while near the sixty-sixth degree of latitude, carried by a current to the northward 48 miles in three days. On his return he experienced, about the seventy-first degree of latitude, a current by which the vessels were carried thirteen miles to the north in two days. The writer remarks, however, that the difficulty of keeping a correct reckoning subjects these observations to some suspicion. In a little lower latitude, he tried the current by mooring
the boat, and found it setting to the north-east one sixth of a mile an hour.
The vessels now steered for South Georgia, and on their passage kept a look-out for South Iceland, an imaginary isle laid down in the chart near the sixty-third degree of south latitude, and the forty-fifth of west longitude from Greenwich. We cannot help suspecting, from the lamentations of the worthy Captain, and the bitter tone of vexation in which he relates his disappointment, that although he is not willing to acknowledge it, he had cherished expectations of extraordinary good fortune on the untrodden shores of this island. His imagination probably gloated on the abundance of what he technically calls produce, to be found here ; to wit, multitudes of the fur-seal, of sea-elephants, and sea-leopards, who, unused to the sight of man, would lie still, and quietly suffer themselves to be killed and skinned. Instead however, of this promised paradise of the seal-hunter, he found only ice-islands, fog-banks, and the waves of the great Atlantic.
In the passage to South Georgia, the writer again noticed several of those extraordinary irregularities in the variation of the compass, which have been already mentioned. South Georgia is an island about ninety-six miles in length, and ten in breadth. It is indented with many deep bays, which in some places almost meet each other from the opposite shores. The lofty summits of the mountains are perpetually covered with snow; but the soil of the valleys during summer, produces in abundance a strong bladed grass, growing to the height of two feet. Fur seals and sea-elephants once abounded on this island, but these animals are now almost extinct. The writer estimates the number of skins that have been brought off from the island by adventurers from Great Britain and other countries, at 1,200,000. Birds yet abound on these shores; and Captain Weddell was no uncurious observer of their appearance and habits. Speaking of the king-penguin, he says,
“They go in large flocks along the shore, erect, and with a waddling gait. When seen through a hazy atinosphere, they may be not inaptly mistaken for a body of men; and, indeed, Sir John Narborough has whimsically likened them to "little children standing up in white aprons.” Those which he describes, however, were a very diminutive species in comparison with the king-penguin, the bird to which I refer.
“In pride, these birds are perhaps not surpassed even by the peacock, to which, in beauty of plumage, they are indeed very little inferior,-as may be seen in our principal museums During the time of moulting, they seem to repel each other with disgust, on account of the ragged state of their coats; but as they arrive at the maximum of splendour they reassemble, and no one who has not completed his plumage is allowed to enter the community. Their frequently looking down their front and
sides in order to contemplate the perfection of their exterior brilliancy, and to remove any speck which might sully it, is truly amazing to an ob
“ About the beginning of January they pair, and lay their eggs. During the time of hatching, the male is remarkably assiduous, so that when the hen has occasion to go off to feed and wash, the egg is transported to him, which is done by placing their toes together, and rolling it from the one to the other, using their beaks to place it properly. As they have no nest, it is to be remarked, that the egg is carried between the tail and legs, where the female, in particular, has a cavity for the purpose.
“ The hen keeps charge of her young nearly a twelvemonth, during which time they change and complete their plumage; and in teaching them to swim, the mother has frequently to use some artifice; for when the young one refuses to take the water, she entices it to the side of a rock, and cunningly pushes it in, and this is repeated until it takes the sea of its own accord. There are three other kinds of penguins, all of them nearly of the same size, but little more than half the bigness of that which I have described. Their plumage is not near so fine, but they walk erect, and are of the same form with the king-penguin. The names by which they are distinguished are, the macaroni, the jack-ass, and the stonecracker penguin. The macaroni is so called from its having been likened to a fop or macaroni, though I must confess, I do not see the similitude. The next has its name from the noise it makes, which resembles the braying of an ass. And the third is denominated from its pecking or cracking stones when irritated. All these birds have a practice of cunningly stealing from one another, during the time of nest-building, the materials of which they are constructed. They differ from the king-penguin in these particulars, and also in having nests, which are sometimes in the side of tussac mounds, but generally on the side of a hill, and are composed of a few sticks and stones. They remain with their young but four months, viz. frorn January to April, at which time they take them off shore for several successive days, to the distance of four or five miles, in order to accustom them to the water; and when they can endure it, they go off to sea.”—pp. 55. 57.
Some particulars of the manners of the albatross are worth transcribing.
“ There is something humourously remarkable in their way of mating; the couple approach one another with great apparent ceremony, bringing their beaks repeatedly together, swinging their heads, and contemplating each other with very deliberate attention Sometimes this will continue for two hours together, and to a person inclined to be amused, the whole transaction would appear not unlike one of our own formal courtships in pantomime. They have great power in their beaks, and, when on the nest, I have observed them defend themselves for half an hour against an active dog. Their feet are webbed and remarkably large, so that when the water is smooth they can walk on the surface with hardly any assistance from their wings, and the noise of their tread is heard at a considerable distance. Their eggs are inferior to those of geese, but they have less yolk, and more white in proportion to their size, and weigh generally one pound and three quarters. All birds of the albatross and gull kind lay their eggs in October, and, when new laid, they are a great source of refreshment.”—pp. 58, 59.