Page images
PDF
EPUB

description of a spot, which perhaps no is that which Quintus Curtius gives of Europeans but ourselves have had the the Lake Ascanius-Aqua sponie coropportunity of examining, and on crescens."* which, therefore, we are bound (in jus- The Lake of Shahee, or Maragha, tice to those opportunities) not to with

ne an inland sea of about 280 miles in

a hold the information which we obtain- circumference is close to these remark. ed, I will venture to give the following able ponds. From all the travellers notes of our visit, relying on the can

could learn, it is generally very shallow, dour and the science of my reader to

beiog from one cubit to three or four in fill up my imperfect outline.

its greatest depth. A causeway was “On approaching the spot,the ground has a hollow sound, with a particularly

mentioned as crossing this expanse of

water, which it is probable is a work of dreary and calcined appearance, and when upon it, a strong mineral smell 5

great antiquity :arises from the ponds. The process of “The same fact wbich appears in the petrifaction is to be traced from its first Caspian Sea, the Dead Sea, and many beginning to its termination. In one other lakes in the globe, is also to be part, the water is clear, in a second, it remarked here: I mean the daily reappears thicker and stagnant, in a third, ception of a great quantity of water quite black, and in its last stage, is without any visible increase in the lake white like a hoar frost. Indeed, à pet- itself. No less than fourteen rivers of rified pond looks like frozen water, different sizes discharge themselves into and before the operation is quite finish- the lake of Shahee ; and although from ed, a stone slightly thrown upon it the general character of Persian rivers, breaks the outer coating, and causes I should not suppose any of them to be the black water underneath to exude. so large as the Jordan, + yet still colWhere the operation is complete, a lectively they cannot fail to make up a stone makes no impression, and a man very large mass of water. Instead of may walk upon it without wetting his increase, there are many visible sigos shoes. Whenever the petrifaction has of diminution of the water, from which been hewn into the curious progress of we may conclude, that the evaporation the concretion is clearly seen, and shews is greater than the supplies from the itself like sheets of rough paper placed rivers. one over the other in accumulated layers. Such is the constant tendency of “This lake resembles in many things, this water to become stone, that where what Saudys calls “ that cursed lake it exudes from the ground in bubbles, Asphaltides,"S or the Dead Sea. Like the petrifaction assumes a globular it, its water seems dull and heavy, and shape, as if the bubbles of a spring, by the late Mr. Brown found that it cona stroke of magic, bad been arrested in tains more salt than that of the sea. their play, and metamorphosed into We were informed, that as soon as the marble. These stony bubbles, which rivers disgorge any of their fish into it, form the most curious specimens of this they immediately die. We saw swans extraordinary quarry, frequently con- in th: Jake, near the coast contiguous to tain with them portions of the earth Shirameen. Like the Dead Sea, it also through wbich the water has oozed. supplies the adjacent country with a

“The substance thus produced is salt of beautiful transparency, although brittle, transparent, and sometimes most the inhabitants generally prefer the rock richly streaked with green, red, and salt, wbich is cut from quarries in the copper-coloured veios. It admits of neighbourhood of the petrifactions." being cut into immense slabs, and takes Though Mount Ararat has been frea good polisb. We did not remark quently described, there is so much nothat any plant except rushes grew in the water. The shortest and best defi

+ Shaw, vol i p. 156. pition that can be given of the ponds, Sandys' Travels, 7th edit. p. 110.

hort

and boat

[ocr errors]

* Lib. xi. c. 12.

VOL. 4.] Morier's Travels-Ascent of Mount Ararat.

477 velty in Mr. Morier's observations, that Caucasus (lib. xi.) and as generally bewe cannot resist our desire to extract · lieved by the Persiaps and Armenians them; and the memorable pature of to exist at the present day in the snows the place would, we are sure, procure of Ararat, appear to be fabulous. We our pardon for a longer and less inter- repeatedly offered rewards to those who esting narrative:

would bring us one, but never succeed“ During the long time that we were ed. The Persians represent them as in the neighbourhood of Mount Ararat, a small wbite worm, so excessively although we made frequent plans for cold that one will effectually cool a attempting to ascend it, yet we were al- large bowl of sherbet. In the month ways impeded by some reason or other. of August on approaching towards the We were encamped before it at the ve- top of Ararat, and even at the village ry best season for such an undertaking, of Akhora, the noise of the cracking namely, during the month of August, ice is said to be heard during the hottest and saw it at the time that it has the part of the day, which is from the least snow opon it.

hours of two to four. When near the "The impossibility of reaching its ex- snow the sound is described as most treme summit, even on the side where awful, but those who have witnessed it is apparently most easy of access, the fall of a large mass of ice from the was decided (so we were assured) some cliff into the chasm, declare that nothyears ago by the Pacha of Bayazid. ing can equal the concussion. He departed from that city with a large "Treman le spaziose atre caverne party of horsemen, at the most favoura- E' l'aer ciceo a quel rumor rimbomba." ble season, and ascended the mountain “The sign of the greatest heat is on the Bayazid side as high as he could when the snow has entirely left the on horseback. He caused three sta- summit of Litlle Ararat. When entions to be marked out on the ascent, camped on the heights of Aberan, we where he built huts and collected pro- watched its daily diminution, until it visions. The third station was the completely vanished. At this period snow. He had no difficulty in cros- the cultivators of melons cut their fruit, sing the region of snow, but when he and in general the snows of Ararat are came to the great cap of ice that covers used by the agriculturists of Erivan as a the top of the cone, he could proceed calendar. by which they regulate the no farther, because several of his men sowing, planting, and reaping of their were there seized with violent oppres- fields. The Eelauts also are guided sions of the chest from the great rare in their motions by the operations of faction of the air. He had before of the weather on this mountain, keeping fered large rewards to any one who to their Yelaks, or descending from should reach the top, but although ma- them according to the falls of snow. py Courds who live at its base have “ The soil of this great mountain apatteinpted it, all have been equally un- pears to be one immense heap of stones, successful. Besides the great rarefac- confusedly thrown together, unenliven. tion of the air, his inen had to contend ed by vegetation. Here and there inwith dangers of the falling ice, large deed are a few plants; but Tournefort's pieces of whicb were constantly detach circumstantial relation will show how ing themselves from the main body and scanty are the gleapings of the botanist. rolling down. During the summer, In many parts of the Little Ararat are the cap of ice on its summit is seen to tracts of a very soft stone, and in others shine with a glow quite distinct from a species of vitrification. Lava is also snow, and if the old inbabitants may to be seen, but the goit which most frebe believed, this great congealed mass quently intervenes between the rocks is bas visibly increased since they first a deep sand. knew it.......

“ 'I'he wilds of this mountain give “The snow-worms, so confidently refuge to all the rogues and outlaws of mentioned by Strabo as existing in the the surrounding country; and there is a

cavern between the great and little Ara- kas given us a perfect view of the rat in so strong a situation, that not long country, morally, politically, and natur. sinee some turbulent Courds who had ally. Even its external forms are pretaken possession of it, beld it ip despite sented in well-executed wood-cuts, and of the Serdar and his forces."

beautiful plates ; some of them richly

coloured ; and upon the whole we may We cannot take our leave of this say, that we have here one of the fer volume without again declaring how books where there is every thing te much pleasure it has afforded us. It praise and nothing to censure.

From Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine.

INTERESTING LETTERS FROM OFFICERS ENGAGED

IN THE POLAR EXPEDITION.

Dentform

We have been favoured with the following copy of Our persevering efforts to penetrate through a letter from an officer employed in the recent at this extepsive accumulation of ire, turned

to his friend in tempt to approach the north pole, to his friend in

out to be the unfortunate cause of our fail our

ure, as you will see by the following brief Scotland,

narrative, which I detail from memory, 2 Deptford, 4th Nov. 1818.

all our journals have been sent up to the Ad DEAR SIR,

miralty, with the view, we take for granted, W H EN I told you, on leaving England, of being published : for though we have

that you would first hear from me by done little or nothing, and the question of a way of Kamskatka, or the Colombia river, polar passage, or the possibility of approach. I little expected that my first letter to you ing the pole, remaios precisely as it did be would be dated from the Thames : yet so it fore our departure from England, yet we is, to our most bitter disappointment and should not be sorry that our humble endear mortification ; for so very sanguine were we ours were found to be worthy a niche in the all of success, that we had appropriated to temple of Fame, and to be hereafter include our two ships' companies alone the two par- ed in some of those numerous “ Collections liamentary rewards of five-and-twenty- of Voyages of Discovery" which find a thousand pounds, rejecting all overtures to place in the libraries of our countrymes. share with the north-westers, whom we now 'We reached Hakluyt's Headland on the find to be in the fairest way possible to do 7th June, and standing on among the loose the job. And this, by the way, adds not a ice, to the lat. 80° 291, fell in with sis at SPFlittle to our mortification ; not that we doen whale-fishers, from whom we learned not bope most sincerely that they may suc- that all was close to the westward. The ceed, but because we exercised a sort of tri- wind, being north-east, brought with it large umph over them before our departure, and flows of ice drifting away to the southward, made ourselves sure of reaching the Pacific which gave us the greatest hopes of finding before them; having so much a nearer, and, a passage round the land to the eastward : as we thought, so much a tatrer, prospect of and in fact in the course ot a tew days, we a free and open passage across the Polar observed much clear water in that direction. Bason, as Mr. Barrow calls it, into the Pa. We were soon, however, beset in the ice citie.

and remained iminoveable for several days Another subject of mortification, and that At length a strong easterly wind dispersed not the least, is, that people here, with whom the ice, and set us free ; and we reached an we converse, entertain the most absurd no. anchorage towards the end of June, near the tions of our failure ; nay, some go so far ag land called Vogel Sang. Here we remained to say, that the attempt was nothing less about a week, observing with great pleasure than impious, to pass the frozen boundary vast masses of ice continuing to boat to the which God has been pleased to set to man's south-west, and at the end of that time were researches ; foolishly faneying that there is gratified by the appearance of an open sea a fixed and impenetrabie bouodary, and ig to the north-east. We had pot proceeded norant that many navigators have passed far, however, in that direction, till we were three or four degrees beyond the spot where again beset by the floatieg ice, in which we we were stopped. They know not, in fact, reinained several days. It was now, I be that the disposition of the ice is different lieve, about the 20th of July, when we got every year, and, I may add, every month. out of the ice, and stood once more to the In the present year, upluckily for us, it hap- westward, being then, as we judged, (for pened to be placed peculiarly unfavourable the weatber would not admit of taking obfor a passage through The almost per- servations) in lat. 80° 30, this being the petual southerly and southwesterly winds highest degree of latitude we could reach. hemmed it in to the northward, and choked On the 29th July' we had a beavy swell up the narrow channel between Old Green- from the southward, with large masses of land and Spitzbergea, while the northeast- stream-ice in motion, which the ships with erly current, setting round Hakluyt's Head difficulty avoided, and which io fact struck land, not only belped to join it fast, but them frequently very hard. On the followbrought also a constant accession of field-ice. ing day we stood towards the main body of

VOL. 4.]

Interesting Letters concerning the Polar Expedition.

479

en

the ice in the north-east quarter. The wea. You must not however suppose we were ther now became squally, the atmosphere idle during the month which we remained at was loaded with clouds, and the baroineter anchor in Smeerenberg Bay. On the concontinued gradually to fall. Our distance trary, our astronomical observations, our from the ice was not more than five miles ; surveys and sketches of the country and of and by a shift of the wind to the southward, its natural history, will, I hope, be found it became unfortunately what I may call a not wholly useless or uninteresting. Lieut. lee shore. The wind rapidly increased to a Beechey has made some beautiful sketches gale, and the ships as rapidly approached of the two ships taking the ice. We are the ice, which we soon perceived it was im told also, that our observations with the pe possible for them to weather. Nothing was dulum are important and satisfactory. Innow left for us but to set all sail, and run deed, setting aside the grievous disappointthe ships directly stem on into the body of ment we all feel at the failure of the main the ice; an example being first set by the object, we have passed a very agreeable six Dorothea, and followed by the Trent: for months. We got plenty of game on the islhad they taken the ice with their broadsides, ands and on the water, as bears, sea-horses, they must both inevitably have gone to seals, and foxes ; but the most delightful anpieces, strong as they were, in a few mo. imal was the rein-deer, which afforded us ments The approach to the ice was one of abundance of excellent venison, the fat of the most awful moments I ever experienced, which was from three to four inches in The sea was rolling mountains high, the thickness. How these creatures contrived wind blew a hurricane, an

a hurricane, and the waves broke to keep themselves in such high condition, over the mast-heads, and every appearance is quite a mystery ; for when we first apindicated the immediate destruction of the proached Hakluyi's Headland, the wbole of two ships; and I believe every man on Amsterdam and Dane's Islands appeared to board thought there was but a few moments be covered with snow ; but ou our return between him and eteroity. The two ships to repair our ships, the snow had in many entered the ice with a tremendous crash, parts disappeared, and the ground was sparand must infallibly have gone to pieces with ingly covered with a kind of moss, which the shock, had they not been fitted up with grew particularly between rocks and stones. all the strength that wood and iron could It is tbis moss chiefly on which these ani. give them. By degrees the strength of the mals feed. wind acting on the sails, worked the ships The water here was free from all ice, exinto the body of the ice ; and in proportion cept a large iceberg aground, very smooth; as they advanced from the outer edge, the and we used to land on a fine sandy beach. motion became less, till at length, when One day, in passing this iceberg, the purser

they had advanced from a quarter to half a of the Trent fired off his musket at some ** mile, they were completely set fast, and re birds. The moment the report had ceased, mained in tolerable tranquillity ; but, by a loud crack was heard, and the moment afthe first shock, and the working of the ice terwards the iceberg fell in pieces with a agaiost their sides, they both sustained very tremendous crash ; and the swell it occasionserious damages, especially the Dorothea, ed was so great, that the boat was throwa wbich was not expected to reach Smeeren- out of the water upwards of ninety feet from berg Bay. The Trent's damage was prin- the place where she had just grounded.

er rudder. On the 31st Immediately afterwards we perceived the July the gale had abated, and the wind sea, for a mile all round, covered with the shifted to the northward, when the ice im- fragments of ice. It is probably not fabumediately opened, and both ships having got Jous, therefore, what travellers tell us, that - out, made the best of their way to an an- the gudes in the Alps, on approaching a glachorage between Amsterdam and Dane's cier, desire that a word shall not be spoker Island, which the Dutch named Smeeren. above a whisper, lest the sound should bring berg Bay ; and here we renained the whole it down. month of August, repairing the damages we We were astonished to find on shore, not had sustajned. The Trent was soon ready less, probably, than from three to four bunfor any service; but the Dorothea was so dred graves, mostly of Dutebmen; as we bruised and shattered, that, on a minute sur considered it one of the healthiest climates in vey, after every thing bad been taken out the world. Some of them, it is true, were a of her, it was found necessary to keep the hundred years old ; and within a coffin preTrent by her, as she was deemed unsafe to cisely of that date we found the worsted cap proceed to England alone. Thus you will on the skul), and the worsted stockings on perceive, that by this untoward accident we the leg-bones, as fresh almost as if they bad completely lost the best month in the year been knit the present year. for getting to the northward, and in faci at. We made collections of every thing that toropted nothing farther in that direction; occurred, which will be sent by our commothough, on our return, we did try to make dore to the British Museum : but I am not a the coast of Greenland, but without success, judge how far they may be curious or usefgl. At the time when the gale occurred, and I have much more to tell you when we meet; after it had ceased, there was every appear and till then, I am, dear sir, &c. ance of open water to the eastward ; and I cannot help thinking, that if a passage shall The following extract of a very interesting letter at any future time be effected, it must be from an officer of the Dorothea, will put our between Spitzbergen and Nova Zembla ; to :

readers in possession of all that is yet known re try which, since our return to England, I have learned, was part of our instructions :

specting this branch of the expedition. but alas ! tbat terrible gale of wind in which “ We first made the ice about the 27th we were canght, rendered as perfectly inef. May, near Cherry-Island, which is small, ficient for this year.

and of remarkable appearance, being composed of many high and pointed rocks or a rent or fissure, ten or twelve miles in ciscliffs; and io one bearing, looks as if rent cumference, and situated in every possible asonder by some roovglsion of nature. It direction, save here and there, where, from Vies on the south-east part of Spitzbergeu, accumulation, and the force of winds and from which it is distant about 150 miles. Du- currents, it had formed high, irregular, and *ring a few days previous to making the ice, impending columns, it is not difficult, I think, we experienced a great change of weather, to account for my feelings. (o this situation the thermometer having fallen very conside- we remained ten or twelve days, nearly rably, and now continued below 32 degrees. fixed bodies, except when the different corWe had also frequent and heavy falls of re

I heavy falls of rents changed our situation, which was iodi. anow ; aod for several days, in the latter part cated to us only by altering the bearings of of May, the tbermometer fell to 18 deg. or the land, from which we were distaot right 14 deg, below the freezing point. We soon or ten leagnes. At length we were extricadescried the lofty and dow-capped rocks or ted from our perilous situation by the ice precipices which compose Spitzbergen---the partially opening, so as to enable us to force cheerless, bleak, and Sterile aspect of which our way out. it is impossible to describe. Running along “We now ranged along the edge of the ice, the westero side of the island, our progress endeavouring, if possible, to discover somne was stopped by immense barriers of ice, vncancy by which we might pepetrate oorthwbicb extended in every direction as far as ward; but we did so in vain. On the oth the eye could reach, and joining the land to June we agaio came to anchor in Fair Hathe northward, blocked up all the harbours. ven, which is situated between two islands We succeeded, however, in gaining a high called Vogel Sang and Clover Cliff. Oa northern latitude, viz. about 80o; but as we those, and the neighbouring islands, we dishad parted from our consort a few days be covered numerous herds of rein-deer; and in fore in a heavy gale of wind, we returned in running in for anchorage, immense numbers quest of her, and were fortunate enough to of sea-horses were seen lying on the ice, hudfall in with her on the subsequent day. We dled together, and, at a distance, much renow put into Magdalena Bay, in the lat. 790 seinbling a group of cattle. We succeeded 33 north, lon. 11. east. The upper and in- in killing several, some of which were of ner part of this bay we found so choked up prodigious size ; for instaoce, one which we with ice, which was now beginning to break cut up was found to weigh twenty huodred. up, that onr situation here became very cri. weight. These animals are seen everywhere, ucal. Having surveyed it, however, we near the land, on the ice, as well as in the again pat to sea, and ran along the edge of sea ; and they are fouod in the bays (which the ice to the westward, which everywhere are numerous all along the coast), lying on presented the appearance of a solid body. the beach, sometimes to the amount of seveOn the 10th Jone we fell in with several sail ral hundreds. To a stranger they present of Greenlaodmen, when we were sorry to the most forbidding and ugly aspect imaginalearn that no hope existed of getting to the ble. When much appoyed by shot, they asnorthward by stretching to the westward ; semble their forces ; surround the boat, as if and it was the upapiinous opinion of the mas determined to retaliate. Thirty, forty, or ters of these ships, that to gain a high north- more, will appear in every direction, and erp latitude, we must penetrate to the north- almost at the same moment, and so pear, that ward : that is to say, that we must stand in the muzzl your musket will often reach with, or near to the land of Spitzbergen. In their heads. They now make a hissing, consequence of this information, as well as barking kind of noise; and no sooner receive the observations we had already made, and your fire than they become apparently furithe decisive opinion of our pilots, we retrac- ous, roll about, descend probably for a miped our steps to the north ward, and were soon ute, when they reappear with immense incompletely beset in the ice. You cannot crease of numbers, and seem proportionably form any conception of the truly picturesque bolder in their asseults. and ofteo solemn grandeur of such a scene. “Several of our oars were snapped in two, Conceive two vessels hemmed in, jammed, or otherwise broken by them. To their upand completely surrognded by immense per jaw are two tusks of great size, which masses of ice, of the rudest and often most seem as if intended by nature to form the fantastic forms; the two ships appearing, as principal means of defence, as well against it were, like specks in the midst of a vast ex- the attacks of their enemies, as to raise and tended plane, of alabaster whiteness, and to support their bugb carcases when they elewhich the eye can assigo no limits. When vate themselves from the sea to the ice. These the sun shone bright, whether at mid-day or tasks are of the purest ivory, and, when they midnight, but particularly at the latter peri- have attained their full growth, are of conod, its beams assumed a softer hue, and shed siderable value. Their hides are very thick, a mellower tint on the immense sheet of sure and of the toughest texture ; but they are rounding ice, while the steep and towering coarse, and only fit for placing on the rigsummit of Spitzbergen, forming the bark ging of ships to prevent chafing. When ground, combined to render the whole truly brought on board, their bodies emitted a grand and interesting. Whilst gazing on most intolerable stench; to get rid of which, such a scene, I never failed to experience as soon as they were skinped, the carcass was sensations at once solemo and astonishing; thrown overboard. The rein-deer of Spitzfor there was pomething in mny breast which bergen, of which we procured a plentiful for ever associated itself with ihe possibility, supply, do not, I think differ essentially Day probability, of cever being able to ex- froin ihe deer of England, except that, as the tricate ourselves. Indeed, when it is consid- autumn advances, they begin to cast their ered that you can with a glance of the eye, summer coat, and during the winter months at once embrace pieces of solid ice, without become perfectly white. Even in the end of

« PreviousContinue »