Imatges de pàgina

« The most fevere cold fets in, as every where, after the new-year, and is fo piercing in February and March, that the stones split in twain, and the sea reeks like an oven, especially in the bays. This is called the frost-smoke. But yet this is not so cold as the dry air. For if a person goes off from land into fuch a frost-finoke. he perceives the air directly more mild, and not so pinching cold, though his cloaths and hair stiffen with rime and ice. But the frost-fmoke is more apt to raise blisters than the dry cold, and as soon as this linoke is wafted into the colder atmosphere, it freezes to little ice-particles, which are driven on by the wind, and create such a cutting cold on the land, that one can scarce go out of the house without having hands and feet' seized on by the froft. When one boils water, it first freezes over the fire, till at length the heat gains the maitery. The frost then proceeds and paves a path of ice over the fluid fea between the islands, and in the confined coves and inlets. At such times the Greenlanders are alınost starved with hunger, as the cold and ice lay an embargo on their excursions for food.

* We may fix the limits of their summer from the beginning of May to the end of September ; for during these five months the natives encamp in tents. Yet the ground is not mellowed by a thorough thaw till June, and then only on the surface; and till then it does not quite leave off snowing. In August it begins to snow again ; but it seldom lasts on the ground for a winter carpet till October. It is said, however, that less rain and snow falls here than in Norway, and indeed I seldom saw the snow on the sea-side above a foot deep, except where the wind drove it in heaps, and that never to lie long. The snow is either foon dissolved by the fun, or dispersed by the wind; in the last case the wind fcatters fuch a subtile snow-duft, that one scarce dare put one's head out of doors. But the winter I spent there, was extraordinary moderate and intermitted. In many years the snow lies from September to - June, blows in drifts in some places several fathom high, and foon freezes fo hard that people can walk over it in snow-shoes ; and then it must continue raining for several days before it melts.

! In the longest fummer-days it is so hot, that we are ob. liged to throw off the warmer garments, especially in the bays and vallies, where the sun-beams concenter, and the fogs and winds from the sea are excluded.' The fea-water, that remains' þehind in the basons of the rocks at the recess of the tide, coagulates by the power of the fun to a beautiful white falt. Nay it is sometimes fo hot, in ferene weather and clear fun shine, upon the open fea, that the pitch” melts on the thips fides: Yet we can never have a perfect enjoyment of the Greenland


warmth, partly on account of the chilling air emitted from the islands of ice, which is fo penetrating in the evening that wo are glad to creep into our fürs again, and can often bear them double ; and partly on account of the fogs that prevail on the coast almost every day from April to August, and are frequently so thick that we cannot see a ship's length before us. Some. times the fog is fo low that it can scarce be diftinguished from the water, but then the mountains and upper regions are seen fo much the clearer. The most agreeable and settled weather is in autumn, but then its duration must be transient, and it is interrupted with sharp night frosts.

" When the mist in the cold air congeals to hoar-frost, the * subtile icey Spicula may be discerned like fine needles or glittering atoms, especially when the sun-beams stream through an opake shade. They overspread the water with a concretion that appears like a spider's web.

• It has been many times remarked, that the weather in Greenland is just the reverse to that in Europe ; so that when the temperate climates are incommoded with a very hard winter, it is here uncommonly mild, and vice versa. It does not always happen fo; yet I find Mr. Egede observes in his journal, that in the well-known cold winter between 1739 and 1740 it was so mild in Disko-creek, that the wild geese fled from the temperate to this frigid zone to seek warmth in January. There was no ice in the bay till far in March, though in other winters it is commonly covered with ice from October to May. He also says, that though the firmament was often bright and clear, they could not see the fun till February, though he generally makes his welcome appearance again soon after the new-year. The author ascribes both these effects to the warm and yet-imperceptible exhalations, that were forced hither by the rigorous cold in the milder climates.

In Mr. Pontoppidan's Natural History of Norway, we find, that in the cold winters of 1709 and 1740, the fwans retreated the first time to Norway for the same reason. His words are:

" At that time the frost was so vehement even in France, that the centinels froze to death at their stations, and the birds of the air fell down dead. The Baltic was all arched over to kich a degree, that people travelled over it from Co. penhagen to Dantzic, as if it had been a turn-pike road. Yet all the salt-water in this country was open, nay even the haven at Bergen.' "And on this occasion the wonderful providence of God directed several kinds of water-fowls unknown to us before, and among the rest the swan, this uncommon way, which a philosopher wonld certainly have advised them


againft, namely, to search for open waters in the north, when they could not find them in the south.”

• The latest accounts from Greenland inform us, that the winter of the year 1763, that was extraordinary cold almost throughout Europe, was so mild there, that it is often colder: in summer.'

We thall omit our author's defcriptions of the natural pro. duets of the air, sea, and soil, of this uncomfortable region, because they could afford entertainment only for one species of readers, and we believe are to be found in other publications.. The following extracts we apprehend must be agreeable to all, as they are recommended by an air of originality, and may fatisfy the most rational curiosity,

* The Greenlanders call themselves without any further ceremony innuit, i. e. men, indigene or natives. The Icelanders, who many hundred

years ago

discovered and poffefsed this coun. try and the neighbouring coasts of America, called them in scorn Skrællings, because they are little of ftature ; few exceeding, the moft not amounting to, five foot high, and having the appearance of imbecility at the same time. Yet they have well shaped, proportionable limbs. Their face is commonly broad and flat, with high cheek-bones, but round and plump cheeks. Their eyes are little and black, but devoid of sparkling fire. It is true their nose is not flat, but it is small, and projects but little. Their mouth is coinmonly little and round, and the under-lip somewhat thicker than the upper. Their tody is dark-grey all over, but the face brown or olive, (and yet in many the red shines through). . This brown colour feems not to be altogether from nature, because their children are born as white as others, but may proceed in part from their dirtiness, for they are continually handling grease or train, fitting in the smother of their lamps, and seldom wash themselves. Yet the climate may contribute a good deal to make this colour hereditary and proper to them, after so many gene. zations, especially the jydden alternative of cold and raw air, and burning heat of the sun in summer; and this makes the Europeans that live there fomewhat browner too. But it is probable their perpetual trainy food may contribute the most to their olive-tinge, for their blood becomes so dense, hot and undiuous by it, that their sweat smells like train, and their hands feel like bacon clammy. But there are some that have a moderate white skin, and red cheeks, and more whose face is not so very round; there might easily pass undistinguished among the Europeans, especially among the inhabitants of Some of the mountains of Switzerland. I have also seen,


Greenlanders whose fathers were Europeans, but they were educated according to the Greenland mode. There are not different from the rest in colour, but in certain lineaments of the countenance. Again, I have seen the children of another European by a half-Greenland woman,

that were as beautiful as any in Europe.

• They have universally coal-black, straight, strong and long hair on their heads, but they have feldom any beard, because they constantly root it out. Their hands and feet are little and foft, but their head and the rest of their limbs are large. They have high breasts and broad shoulders, especially the women, who are obliged to carry great burdens from their younger years. Their whole body is fleshy, and well enriched with fat and with blood ; therefore they can endure the cold very well with very thin cloathing and bare heads and necks; and they commonly fit naked in their houses, all except their breeches; their bodies then 'emit such a hot steam, that an European that lits by cannot endure it. And when they (the christian converts from among this nation) are assembled even in the wintertime to their divine worship, they evaporate or rather blow out such a calidity, that we are presently obliged to wipe off the sweat, and can scarce draw our breath for the thick exhadation.

" They are very light and nimble of foot, and can use their hands too with a good deal of dexterity and skill. There are but few maimed or infirm people among them, and fewer misShapen births. They do not want for activity and strength of body, though they don't know how to set about any work they are not used to; however, in their own business they excel us. Thus a man that hath eat nothing for three days, at least nothing but sea-grafs, can manage his little kajak or canoe in the most furious waves; and the women will carry a whole reindeer the space of four leagues, or a piece of timber or stone, near double the weight of what an European would lift.

• It is hard to form a true judgment of their temperament, because their mental qualities are so blended, that one cannot take a diftin&t survey of them. Yet they seem to be principally of a fanguine difpofition, intermixed with something phlegmatica I say principally, for there is a difference among Greenlanders, as well as among other nations, and there are also cholerick, and melancholy complexions. They are not very lively, much less jovial and extravagant, yet they are good-humoured; amicable, sociable, and unconcerned about the future. Consequently they are not covetous to scrape a heap of stuff together, but are liberal in giving. It is true, one cannot perceive any peculiar high spirit in them, but yet they have, out

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of ignorance, a good share of what we may call rustic or peafant's pride, fet themselves far above the Europeans, or Kablunæt as they call them, and make a mock of them among themselves. For though they are obliged to yield them the preeminence both in understanding and manual performances, yet they don't know how to set any value on these. Whereas ou the other hand their own iniinitable ikill in the catching feals, which is their staff of life, and besides which nothing is indifpensably neceflary with them, affords sufficient food for their good conceit of themselves. And ’tis certain they are not fo foolish and stupid as the favages are commonly thought to be, for in their ways and employments they are wife and sharp enough. But yet they are not so ingenious and polished neither as many report them to be. Their reflexion or invention dilplays itself in the employments neceffary to their subsistence, and what is not infeparably connected with that, has not a thought of theirs beftowed on it. Therefore we may attribute to them a fimplicity without filliness, and good feufe without - the art of reasoning. They count themselves to be the only civilized and well. bred people, because many unfeemly things which they see too often among the Europeans, seldom or - never occur among them. Therefore they use to say, when they see a quiet modest stranger : “ He is almost as well-bred as we ;” or, "" He begins to be a man, 'that is, to be a Greenlander." They are not litigious but patient, and recede when any one encroaches upon them; but if they are pushed to that degree that they can go no further, they become so desperate, that they regard neither fire nor water.

• They are not idle, but always employed about something; yet they are very variable or fickle, so that if they begin a thing, and any unexpected difficulty thwarts them, they throw it by directly. In the fummer they sleep five or six hours, and , in the winter eight. But if they have worked hard, and waked

all night, they will fleep the whole day. In the morning, : when they stand with pensive silence upon fome eminence, and

take a survey of the ocean and the weather, they are commonly thoughtful and dejected, because the burdens and the dangers of the day ftana in prospect before them. But when no labours demand their application, or tliey return home from a successful fishery, they are chearful and conversible.

• They are such adepts in difgnising' or suppreffing their parfions, that we might take them for Stoics in appearance. They affect also to be very resigned in calamitous accidents. They are not soon irritated to anger, or can easily bridle their animofity; but in fuch cases they are quite dumb and fullen, and don't forget to revenge themselves when an opportunity presents itself.'

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