Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

It was now plain, that although Southampton Island was laid down with a continuous outline in the charts, it had in fact never been seen, except at its southern extremity. This discovery could not but be the source of intense anxiety; it prevented the ship from running, unless by day, and even then only while the sky remained clear; for as the compasses were of no use, no course could be ascertained when the sun was clouded. Besides this, it had been proved that the Griper was unable to work off a lee-shore; it thus became necessary to keep the leads going both day and night, to the great fatigue and exhaustion of the men. The temperature was 28°, and rain feil heavily for a great part of the time.

Little, even of nautical interest, occurred till the night of the 12th, when the Griper was to the north of Wager river:

"The night was piercingly cold, and the sea continued to wash fore and aft the decks, while constant snow fell. As the lower deck was afloat, our people and all their hammocks thoroughly soaked, no rest could be obtained.

"Never shall I forget the dreariness of this most anxious night. Our ship pitched at such a rate, that it was not possible to stand even below, while on deck we were unable to move without holding by ropes which were stretched from side to side. The drift snow flew in such sharp heavy flakes, that we could not look to windward, and it froze on deck to above a foot in depth. The sea made incessant breaches quite fore and aft the ship, and the temporary warmth it gave while it washed over us, was most painfully checked by its almost immediately freezing on our clothes. To these discomforts were added the horrible uncertainty as to whether the cables would hold until day-light, and the conviction also that if they failed us, we should instantly be dashed to pieces; the wind blowing directly to the quarter in which we knew the shore must lie. Again, should they continue to hold us, we feared by the ship's complaining so much forward, that the bitts would be torn up, or that she would settle down at her anchors, overpowered by some of the tremendous seas which burst over her.

"During the whole of this time, streams of heavy ice continued to drive down upon us, any of which, had it hung for a moment against the cables, would have broken them, and at the same time have allowed the bowsprit to pitch on it and be destroyed. The masts would have followed this, for we were all so exhausted, and the ship was so coated with ice, that nothing could have been done to save them.

"We all lay down at times during the night; for to have re mained constantly on deck would have quite overpowered us; I constantly went up, and shall never forget the desolate picture which was always before us.

"The hurricane blew with such violence as to be perfectly deafen

ing; and the heavy wash of the sea made it difficult to reach the main-mast, where the officer of the watch and his people sat shivering, completely cased in frozen snow, under a small tarpaulin, before which ropes were stretched to preserve them in their places. I never beheld a darker night, and its gloom was increased by the rays of a small horn lantern, which was suspended from the mizen stay to shew where the people sat.

"At dawn on the 13th, thirty minutes after four, A. M., we found that the best bower cable had parted, and as the gale now blew with terrific violence from the north, there was little reason to expect that the other anchors would hold long; or if they did, we pitched so deeply, and lifted so great a body of water each time, that it was feared the windlass and forecastle would be torn up, or she must go down at her anchors; although the ports were knocked out, and a considerable portion of the bulwark cut away, she could scarcely discharge one sea before shipping another, and the decks were frequently flooded to an alarming depth.

"At six A. M., all farther doubts on this particular account were at an end; for, having received two overwhelming seas, both the other cables went at the same moment, and we were left helpless, without anchors, or any means of saving ourselves, should the shore, as we had every reason to expect, be close astern. And here again I had the happiness of witnessing the same general tranquillity as was shewn on the 1st of September. There was no outcry that the cables were gone, but my friend Mr. Manico, with Mr. Carr the gunner, came aft as soon as they recovered their legs, and in the lowest whisper, informed me that the cables had all parted. The ship, in trending to the wind, lay quite down on her broadside, and as it then became evident that nothing held her, and that she was quite helpless, each man instinctively took his station, while the seamen at the leads, having secured themselves as well as was in their power, repeated their soundings, on which our preservation depended, with as much composure as if we had been entering a friendly port. Here again that Almighty Power which had before so mercifully preserved as, granted us his protection, for it so happened that it was slackwater when we parted, the wind had come round to N.N.W. (along the land,) and our head fell off to north-east, or seaward; we set two try-sails, for the ship would bear no more, and even with that lay her lee gunwale in the water. In a quarter of an hour we were in seventeen fathoms. Still expecting every moment to strike, from having no idea where we had anchored, I ordered the few remaining casks of the provisions received from the Snap, to be hove overboard, for being stowed round the capstan and abaft the mizen-mast, I feared their fetching way should we take the ground. At eight the fore trysail gaff went in the slings, but we were unable to lower it, on account of the amazing force of the wind, and every rope being encrusted with a thick coating of ice. The decks were now so deeply covered with frozen snow and freezing sea-water, that it was scarcely possible, while we lay over so much,

to stand on them; and all hands being wet and half frozen, without having had any refreshment for so many hours, our situation was rendered miserable in the extreme." P. 100.

After this second escape, in which all the bower anchors and chains were lost, so that it was impossible to bring up in any part of the Welcome, exposed to a sweeping tideway and constant heavy gales, being yet 80 miles distant from Repulse Bay, with the shores leading to which he was wholly unacquainted, with the compasses useless, and the ship scarcely manageable, even in moderate weather, it is no matter of surprise that Captain Lyon determined to make a southing to the narrows of the Welcome, and then to decide on his future operations. On addressing a letter to his officers, requesting their respective opinions, without stating his own, each individual advised (in coincidence with the judgment which Captain Lyon himself had already formed) a return to England without delay.

Even this, however, was not to be accomplished without difficulty; hard labour, cold and wet had affected many of the ship's company with rheumatism; the weather was still boisterous; and, in each succeeding gale, the ship's decks became more leaky. The strains which she had suffered in the two storms had loosened her upper works considerably, and the opening of the seams allowed the water to find its way to the cork lining, whence it dropped for many hours after seas had ceased to be shipped. The lower deck had not been dry for three weeks, and was in a most unwholesome state, nor could any remedy be applied; for the hatches of necessity were always obliged to be battened down, and in that case the galley fire would not draw. The allowance of water was reduced to a quart per diem; as they were unable to anchor, none could be procured from shore; and, to add to their distress, no ice was visible in seas which at other times were constantly filled by it. Even the small portion which they continued to obtain was procured by the uncertain supply of distillation.

Happily, however, they made the entrance of Hudson's Strait, and here they obtained sufficient water from iceblocks on Nottingham and Salisbury islands. They were here visited by some more Esquimaux of a widely different character from the last. Our new guests, says Captain Lyon, had scarcely a single virtue left, owing to the roguery they had learned from their annual visits to the Hudson's Bay ship, "yet I saw not," he continues," why I should constitute myself the censor of these poor savages, and our barter was accordingly conducted in such a manner as to

enrich them very considerably." Some articles of no small curiosity, considering the rudeness both of the artists and their tools, were here procured: one, a figure of a dog lying down and gnawing a bone, about an inch in length, of admirable spirit and expression, carved from the grinder of a walrus. The others were ivory bears of the same description.

On the evening of the 2d of October the Griper ran into the Atlantic with a fair and moderate breeze. Never were happier countenances seen on deck. For the first time for five weeks, Captain Lyon enjoyed a night of uninterrupted repose. Still he had to weather some heavy gales; and all the whalers whom he met in the remainder of his passage, agreed in representing the past season as the worst they had ever known, though one of them spoke from the experience of 34 years. On the 10th of November the Griper ran into Portsmouth harbour; and Captain Lyon takes leave of his readers, with the following deserved tribute to his shipmates:

"I may with truth assert, that there never was a happier little community than that assembled on board the Griper. Each suc çeeding day, and each escape from difficulties seemed to bind us more strongly together; and I am proud to say, that during the whole of our voyage, neither punishment, complaint, nor even a dispute of any kind, occurred amongst us." P. 1 144.

To this little volume Professor Barlow has annexed an interesting paper on the magnetic errors observed in the compasses, and Dr. Hooker a notice of the few plants procured in the three short visits which Captain Lyon was able to make on shore during his expedition.

ART. VI. Queen Hynde. A Poem, in Six Books. By James Hogg, Author of the Qeeen's Wake; Poetic Mirror; Pilgrims of the Sun, &c. &c. 8vo. 443. pp. Longman & Co. London, Blackwood, Edinburgh. 1825.

WE cannot help feeling compassion for James Hogg. As a descriptive poet he possesses considerable powers. The features of his native mountains, and the occupations of his pastoral associates have been painted by his muse with freshness and truth; and the Doric reed breathes not unmusically under his hand. But Hogg aspires to greater things. He has claimed a place among the children of ima

gination and fancy, and not consenting to be warned by the
failure of his efforts, he has produced, upon the present
occasion, an epic poem. The scene is antient Caledonia.
The action is a descent of the Norwegian host. The manners
are a grotesque and ludicrous mixture of monkery, chivalry,
and barbarism; the characters are vague and uninteresting,
and the event is lame and common place. There are many
pretty passages scattered over the poem, which would have
adorned a volume of sonnets. When Mr. Hogg describes
land, or air, or ocean, running or wrestling,,, boating or
boxing, he talks of what he understands, and talks to the
purpose. When he places Queen Hynde on the throne of
her ancestors, covers her from head to foot with diamonds
and gold, and paints the "blooming bevy" of her attendant
nymphs, the reader may fancy himself in the Arabian Nights,
or in a Byronian Eastern harem; but can hardly believe that
he is located in the opulent towns of Scotland. The narra-
tive is miserably managed; as witness the following: tran-
scendent specimens of the doggrel

"King Eric came over, a conqueror proved;
A kingdom he wanted, a kingdom beloved:
The queen was an item he did not imply,
But the conqueror fell at the glance of her eye.
His proffer was made as a lure to the land,
For woman he loved not, nor woman's command:
The name of a hero was all his delight;

His soul was a meteor unmatch'd in the fight;
The north he had conquer'd, and govern'd the whole,
From Dwina's dark flood to the waves of the pole;
And ne'er in his course had he vanquished been,
Till now, by a young Caledonian queen.

But thou, gentle maiden, to whom I appeal,

Who never has felt, what thou could'st not conceal,
Love's dearest remembrance, that brought with the sigh
The stound to the heart, and the tear to the eye-

O, ill canst thou judge of the mighty turmoil

In the warrior's bosom, thus caught in the toil!" P. 188.

Where the metre refuses to jingle, Mr. Hogg allows it to croak.

"Now, two to one, the flying Dane
In gnashing terror scower'd the plain;
His king and his companion gone,
A madness seized the knight upon;
He tried to leap the circling piles,
For shelter 'mid the Danish files,
But was repulsed with fierce disdain,
And thrown back headlong on the plain:


« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »