Imatges de pàgina

testimony to the fact of large logs of wood being dug out of bogs, and found between the rocks and in the valleys. It is also said that good culinary vegetables were once produced on it; but the cabbages seen there by Mr. Hooker, in the month of August, were so diminutive that a half-crown piece would have covered the whole plant. Nothing but a deterioration of climate could have wrought these changes; and this can only be explained by the vast increase of floating ice, which,' says Hooker, 'not only fills all the bays, but covers the sea to that extent from the shore, that the eye cannot trace its boundary from the summit of the highest mountains.' Sometimes it connects the island in one continued mass with Greenland, when the white bears come over in such alarming numbers, that the inhabitants assemble and wage a national war against them. These masses of ice drive about with such rapidity, and rush against one another with so much violence, that the floating wood brought along with them is said sometimes to take fire by the friction. During this conflict, the weather is unsettled and stormy; but when once the ice becomes fixed to the land, the air thickens, and dense fogs, accompanied by a moist and penetrating cold, destroy all vegetation, and the cattle perish.

Similar effects, but to a less extent, are said to have been experienced in Switzerland. So little is it there doubted that the progress of cold has kept pace with the progressive encroachment of the glaciers on the valleys, that the first prize of the Society of Berne for improving Natural Knowledge is appropriated to the best essay on this subject. In the absence of direct proof from thermometrical observation of the increasing chilliness of the climate, it is asserted, on the authority of their annals, that many parts of the Alps, now bare, once afforded good pasturage; that both historical evidence, and remaining traces, prove the existence of forests in places where no tree, at present, can vegetate; aud that the lower limit of perpetual frost is constantly descending. The same effect has been experienced in North America. In the year 1816 the mays, or Indian corn, did not ripen along the whole coast from Pennsylvania to Massachusets--a circumstance which had not happened before in the memory of the oldest inhabitant :-at this time the ice was floating down the shores of the Atlantic as far as the fortieth parallel.

If such be the facts, and they cannot well be questioned, with regard to these countries, it is equally clear that our own climate, though in a less degree, must have been affected by this vast accumulation of ice on the east coast of Greenland. The distance between the centre of Iceland and Edinburgh is not more than twice, and that from Iceland to London not above three times, the distance between Iceland and the east coast of Greenland.


That our climate has been more particularly affected, in the course of the last three years, by the descent of the ice into the Atlantic, and more especially in the summers of the years 1816 and 1817, is a matter of record; for on comparing, by the meteorological register of the Royal Society, the four summer months, May, June, July, and August, of 1805, 1806, and 1807, with the four corresponding months of the last three years, it will be seen that a very considerable diminution of temperature has taken place in the latter periods.

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Here we find a difference of 11°, 12°, and 13°, between the highest temperature of August, July, and June, in the year 1806 as compared with 1816; 16° and 17° between July and May of 1807, as compared with the highest degree of heat in the corresponding months of 1816; and no less than 20° in the month of May 1807 and 1817; and the mean temperature of the four months is invariably less by several degrees in 1816 and 1817, than in either 1806 or 1807, excepting in the month of June 1817, when ten or twelve hot days occurred with the wind at east ; the only ones we had during the summer. In the summers of both years the mercury invariably fell with westerly winds. It cau scarcely be doubted, therefore, that the remarkable chilliness of the atmosphere in the summer months of those two years was owing to the appearance of ice in the Atlantic; and if this be admitted, as little can it be doubted that the destruction of so many thousand square leagues of ice holds out a rational and not an unpleasing prospect, of our once again enjoying the genial warmth of the western breeze, and those soft and gentle zephyrs, which, in our time, have existed only in the imagination of the poet.

The invention of the thermometer and the registry of the temperature are of too recent a date to enable us to compare the state of the atmosphere, before and after the accumulation of ice on the coast of Greenland; but there are reasons for believing that, previously to the fifteenth century, England enjoyed a warmer summer climate than since that period. It is sufficiently apparent that, at one time, vineyards were very common in England; and that wine, in very considerable quantity, was made from them. Tacitus states that vineyards were planted by the Romans in Britain; and Holin



shed quotes the permission given by Probus to the natives to cultivate the vine, and make wine from it. The testimony of Bede -the old notices of tithe on wine, which were common in Kent, Surrey, and other southern counties-the records of suits in the ecclesiastical courts-the inclosed patches of ground attached to numerous abbeys, which still bear the name of vineyards-the plot of ground called East Smithfield, which was converted into a vineyard, and held by four successive constables of the Tower, in the reigns of Rufus, Henry and Stephen, to their great emolument and profit,' seem to remove all doubt on this question. The Isle of Ely was named, in the early times of the Normans, Ile de Vignes, the bishop of which received three or four tons of wine, yearly, for his tenth. So late as the reign of Richard II. the little park at Windsor was appropriated as a vineyard, for the use of the castle and William of Malmsbury asserts, that the vale of Gloucester produced, in the twelfth century, as good wine as many of the provinces of France. There is no province in England hath so many, or such good vineyards, as this country, either for fertility or sweetness of the grape; the wine whereof carrieth no unpleasant tartness, being not much inferior to French in sweetness.' It is remarkable enough that in a park near Berkeley, in this county, tendrils of vines are found springing up yearly among the grass, from one of which a cutting is now flourishing in the garden of Sir Joseph Banks. But wine is known to have been made in England at a much more recent period. Among the MS. notes of the late Peter Collinson, (to whom the European world is indebted for the introduction of some of its choicest plants,) is the following memorandum. Oct. 18th, 1765. I went to see Mr. Roger's vineyard, at Parson's Green, all of Burgundy grapes, and seemingly all perfectly ripe. I did not see a green half-ripe grape in all this great quantity. He does not expect to make less than fourteen hogsheads of wine. The branches and fruit are remarkably large, and the vines very strong.' These facts completely set aside the idea that the vineyards of England were apple-orchards, and that the wine was cider.

Nor is England the only country that has lost its wines by deterioration of climate; as the following fact, on which we can depend, testifies: Between Namur and Liege, the Meuse flows through a narrow valley, which, for picturesque scenery, and high cultivation is, perhaps, unequalled by any country in the world. The richest corn-fields and plantations of tobacco, and other luxuriant vegetables, occupy the space on both sides close to the river; while hop plantations and a series of vineyards are seen creeping towards the very summit of the rocks on the left bank. The vineyards appeared to be in a most luxuriant state when I saw


them, (in September, 1817,) but there was not a single bunch of grapes on any of them. I had conversation with many of the people, who all assured me that formerly they made most excellent wine, both red and white; but that for the last seven years they had not made a single bottle; yet they still went on from year to year in the cultivation of the vine, in the hope that favourable seasous might again return to what they had known them; or, which would be still better, to what they are said to have been some forty or fifty years ago.' But to us, at least, a prospect far more gloomy than the mere loss of wine had begun to present itself by the increasing chilliness of our summer months. It is too well known that there was not sufficient warmth in the summer of 1816 to ripen the grain; and it is generally thought, that if the ten or twelve days of hot weather at the end of June last had not occurred, most of the corn must have perished. This comes more home to the business and bosoms of the present generation, than the loss of those golden days when Bacchus smiled upon our hills.' It was sufficiently alarming to be told that Pomona is about to desert our orchards; and that on ground where the clustering vine once flourished, the apple has, of late years, scarcely ripened,' and that it is now sixteen years since the orchards have afforded a plentiful crop;' that at no very remote period, our posterity may, in all probability, be in the same situation in regard to cider that we are now placed in with respect to wine; when the apple-tree, like the vine, will only afford a penurious supply of sour fruit, and will be cultivated in forcing-houses to supply the tables of the rich.'*

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From these melancholy forebodings, however, we feel ourselves considerably relieved by the removal of the principal cause, in the destruction of the vast fields of ice, of which we have been speaking; and think it is not unreasonable to presume that our summer climate (and winter too, when the wind blows from the western quarter) may henceforward improve; for though we are aware that the changes of temperature depend on a variety of causes, yet the single effect of an atmosphere chilled and condensed over a surface of at least 50,000 square miles of ice, rushing directly upon the British islands from the westward, may have been equal in its diminishing power to all the rest. That cause being now removed, so far from indulging in the gloomy prospect held out by the writer in the Journal we have just quoted, we are rather disposed to join in the recommendation of the Latin poet,

'Insere nunc, Melibæc, pyros, pone ordine viteis.'

2. A central ridge of lofty mountains, covered with perpetual snow, and stretching from south to north, divides Old Greenland into two

* Journal of Science.


distinct parts, called, by the ancient Norwegian and Danish colonists, the East Bygd and West Bygd; between which all communication is totally cut off by land, and by sea also since the fixing of the icy barrier. The colony on the west side increased to four parishes, containing one hundred villages; but being engaged in perpetual hostility with the Esquimaux, the whole were ultimately destroyed by them. The ruins of some of the edifices were still visible in 1721, when that pious and amiable man, Hans Egede, went out with his whole family to settle there, on the re-establishment of a colony on that coast by the Greenland Company of Bergen in Norway. It still exists, and the population, taken but imperfectly in 1802, was found to amount to 5,621 souls; and we have since learnt that, including the Moravian establishments and the natives, who have mostly been converted to Christianity, the total population of the western coast of Greenland may now be estimated at not less than 20,000. They have a few cattle, and a considerable number of sheep, for whose winter subsistence they cut the grass in the summer months and make it into hay; but they have hitherto in vain eudeavoured to breed hogs, these animals being unable to stand the severity of winter.

The Danish colony on the eastern was still more extensive than that on the western side. According to the Iceland Annals, it appears that it was first settled in the year 983, by Erick the Red; that the country was named Greenland, from its superior verdure to Iceland; that churches and convents were built, and a succession of bishops and pastors sent over; and that, from the latest accounts, it consisted of twelve parishes, one hundred and ninety villages, one bishop's see, and two convents; that, in the year 1406, when the seventeenth bishop was proceeding from Norway to take possession of his see, the ice had so closed in upon the coast, as to render it inaccessible. From that period, till last summer, all communication seems to have been cut off with the unfortunate colonists. It is related, however, by Thormoder Torfager, in his History of Greenland, that Bishop Amand, of Skalholt in Iceland, as he was return ing from Norway to that island about the middle of the sixteenth century, was driven by a storm on the east coast of Greenland, off Herjolsness, immediately opposite to Iceland, which the vessel approached so near that the people on board could distinguish the inhabitants driving their cattle in the meadows; but the wind coming fair, they made all sail for Iceland, which they reached the following day, and came to anchor in the Bay of St. Patrick. Of all the attested relations, this of Bishop Amand, says Hans Egede, 'deserves most to be credited:' by this,' he continues, we learn that the colony of the eastern district did flourish about a hundred and fifty years after the commerce and navigation ceased between Norway


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