Imatges de pàgina

which is difficult to double: the one in question, therefore, might well be so called by Deschnew, as he failed to double it in the first attempt; and there was no reason why he should afterwards change the name; for, as Captain Burney admits, it may naturally be imagined that it was given before the difficulty had been surmounted.'

Had Captain Burney looked into 'Coxe's Russian Discoveries,' a very common book, he would there have found some of the most material notices of Deschnew's voyage translated, at the author's request, from the original Russian, by Professor Pallas; and we have too high an opinion of his candour to suppose that lię would have persevered one moment in a fancy which must have entered his mind as hastily as it has heedlessly been adopted. One of the passages translated by Pallas is as follows:-- To go from the river Kovyma to the Anadyr, a great promontory must be doubled which stretches very far into the sea : it is not that promontory which lies next to the river Tschukotskia.' The two islands, and the inhabitants with pieces of the sea-horse's teeth in their under lips, are then mentioned; and the little river Stanovie, which fows into the sea near the spot where the Tschutski have erected a heap of whalebones like a tower;'--all of which were verified, first by Behring and afterwards by Cook, the latter of whom observed, in a Tschutski village a little to the southward of East Cape,' a kind of sentry box or tower, composed of the large bones of large fish,' besides stages ten or twelve feet high ' wholly composed of large bones.'* The Americans also inmediately opposite, as well as the natives of the two islands, have since been found to use the lip ornaments of bone. That Deschnew was in Behring's Strait, therefore, is most fully proved; and the only question is how he came there? Captain Burney seems disposed to think by land, though Deschuew himself says distinctly, that he was ordered to go by seu from the Indigirka to the Kovyma, and from thence to the Anadyr, then newly discovered; that the first time he sailed from the Kovyma, he was forced by the ice to return to that river; but that next year he again sailed from thence, and after great danger, misfortunes, and the loss of part of his shipping, arrived at the mouth of the Anadyr. Had Captain Burney met with this passage, (which is found in Coxe,) we hardly think he could have entertained the smallest doubt of Deschnew having gone by sea, which is the more strongly pointed out by his observing—that Stadukin and Soliverstaff' (who had laid claim to the discovery of the country near the mouth of the Anadyr) 'went thither from the Kovyma by land. It is this voyage which appears to have misled Captain Burney. Stadukin is reported to have sailed with ninety men in a kotsche from the Kovyma towards the great cape of the Tschutski; his people, not being able to double it, crossed over, on foot, to the other side, where they built other vessels. From this it is evident (and we know the fact to be so) that a kotsche is a regular built vessel, not to be taken in pieces, and carried over land, like a baiadar, as Captain Burney seems to infer. But Deschnew's vessels were all kotsches. It would be strange indeed if Deschnew had gone up the Kovyma, taken bis vessels in pieces, carried them over the neck of land, then down the Anadyr, and yet suppressed all mention of such an operation: at any rate, he would not have placed his voyage by sea in contradistinction to that of Stadukin by land. Besides, on such a supposition he could not have come near the East Cape, but must have passed it four or five hundred miles to the eastward. Deschnew further observes, after relating his voyage, that the sea is not every year so free from ice as it was at this period.'

* Cook's last voyage, vol. ii. p. 451.


We are at a loss to conceive what can have given rise to Captain Burney's doubts as to the fact of Deschnew's voyage, unless he questions the authenticity of the papers altogether; for, supposing them to be genuine, his scepticism has not the slightest foundation. Surely he does not mean to infer that because the Tschutski informed Behring that their countrymen who traded with the Russians on the river Kovyma always went thither by land with their merchandize on sledges, drawn by rein-deer, and that they had never made the voyage by sea,' that Deschinew therefore did not make his voyage by sea ? —What has the Russian navigation to do with that of the Tschutski-a miserable people whose territory produces not a tree nor a shrub, and whose canoes are made of fishes bones ? and why should they attempt the icy sea in these wretched machines, when they can reach their destination by land, across the isthmus, in less than a third part of the distance by water?

But the particular most worthy notice' (Captain Bumey says) is that the Tschutski people themselves do not appear, from any of the accounts which have been published, to know the extent of their country to the north. It would be a particular' more

other notice, if they did; and it is not a little remarkable that Captain Burney should expect it from a people who, by his own herunt,' would not explore farther north than afforded a propet of reward for their pains. Do the savages of New Holland, moule msk. --do the Hottentots of the Cape-do the more


civilized tribes of African negroes, or of the Eskimaux of Greenland—do any one of these know the extent of their respective countries? Nay, what does Captain Burney think of the resident servants of the · Hudson's Bay Company,' who know no more of the country twenty miles to the northward of their northernmost settlement than they do of Terra del Fuego*

The doubts of Peter the Great (if he had any) respecting Deschnew's voyage would have been excusable in 1728, when he planned a voyage of discovery to inquire into‘the separation, contiguity, or connection of Asia with America.' The voyage which had ascertained this point was performed butonce, and eighty years had elapsed since that event; and what did Russia care about eastern Siberia and the Tschutski at that early period ? Deschnew and his voyage had been long neglected, and perhaps were wholly forgotten in 1728; nor was it till 1736 that Muller discovered and brought forward the original documents of that and some other expeditions which had been buried among the archives of Yakutsk. But when the value of the Siberian provinces came to be understood, it was to be expected that Peter would wish to ascertain the boundaries of his immense dominions, which in his time were undefined. The imputed doubts, therefore, would, as we have said, be pardonable in the Czar, though, after

the discoveries of Behring and Cook, which corroborated all that Deschnew had stated, they are altogether unreasonable in Captain Burney.

This brings us to the second point of Captain Burney's creed, which is still more extraordinary than the first, as it is in direct opposition to the facts stated in the journals of Captains Cook, Clerke, Gore, and King; nay, we are bold enough to conjecture, directly at variance with the journal of Mr. Burney, who, forty years ago, was lieutenant in the Discovery; and we are therefore inclined to believe, that the opinion, now for the first time made public, that Asia and America are contiguous, and parts of one and the same continent,' is the result of trusting too confidently to a recollection, which such a lapse of time may well be supposed to have impaired. Here, however, we have some grounds stated for this heterodoxy. The first extraordinary circumstance noticed,' says Captain Burney, “ on arriving in Behring's Strait, was a sudden disappearance of the tides ;' the second, that

there was little or no current, nor could it be perceived that the water either rose or fell;' and the third, that the bottom, not being swept by streams, was of soft ooze. On the first two points, 1. The prejudice seems still to exist against this Company for concealing information. This, we can venture to assert, has not been the case for many years past. The truth is, they have nothing to sell. They have been unfortunate in their servants; but had poor Semple not beeu basely murdered, he would have redeemed their credit. VOL. XVIII. No. XXXVJ.



We would ask; As there was neither tide nor current, and the water neither rose nor fell, while it is admitted that 'to the south of Behring's Strait, both on the Asiatic and the American side, strong tides had been experienced'--so strong near the Aleutian islands as to 'run at the rate of seven miles an hour,' --what became of all the water carried to the northward by these extraordinary tides? We should conceive that these tides, and the great body of the northern Pacific, which all navigators have found to be in motion towards Behring's Strait, are the strongest indications of an open and uninterrupted passage for the water (uninterrupted except by ice) through that strait into the polar sea, and a decisive argument against any such bay as Captain Burney has imagined to be formed by the junction of the two continents of Asia and America. Such a tide as he describes, and such currents as are known to exist, rushing mto the funnel-shaped mouth of the strait, and findmg no passage, would infallibly occasion. a rise and fall not less remarkable than those which take place in the bay of Fundy and in the gulf of Tonquin ; whereas, by supposing a communication to exist between the Pacific and the polar seas, under the ice, in the way we supposed in a former Article, this rush of water to the northward, though imperceptible on the surface, might prevent any great rise of the tide: in Captain Burney's view of the subject, we know not what satisfactory explanation can be assigned of a phenomenon which, we may venture to say, would have no parallel in the known world; namely, that of a current rushing into an enclosed bay, without occasioning any rise and fall of tide. Captain Burney, however, offers no explanation.

With regard to the soft ooze,' the third extraordinary circunrstance,' we are willing to give him all the advantage that it may be supposed to afford ; at the same time it may not be amiss to observe that, in the published account of the voyage, the nature of the ground is mentioned but once, as being a soft slimy mud such as might be deposited behind the eddy of some submarine rock ;-but that in the manuscript journal of Captain Clerke, (in whose ship Lieutenant Burney served,) the soundings in, and on both sides of, Behring's Strait are very frequently mentioned, and more commonly stated to be sand, gravel, and small stones, than any other substance, which, Captain Burney will allow, are indications of the bottom' having been swept by streams. It may also be proper to notice, in this place, an observation in Cook's published journal, which seems to militate strongly against Captain Burney's notion of there being no current and no passage through Behring's Strait—it is this; that in the middle of the Strait, when it blew hard from the north, the wind and current being in contrary directions, raised such a sea, that it frequently broke into the

ship;' and it was found in the Discovery, that, when they were as high as the seventieth parallel of latitude, the wind at W. N. W. occasioned a great sell. Captain Burney knows that these things could not well have happened in a close bay with the wind from the land, and where there was 'little or no current.' This expression occurs, it is true, once, and but once, in the published voyage—and on what occasion does it occur? we answer,--when at anchor, at a very short distance from the American coast, in six fathoms water, to the northward of, and far within, Cape Prince of Wales,' and consequently out of any current setting to the northward; in both years, however, a northern current was found, under the intluence of which the ships were driven more from the south-west than any other quarter,'--though never to exceed one mile an hour.'

Captain Burney, however, judiciously reserves what he considers to be his strongest argument to the last. “The deep soundings,' he says, ' we had in this sea (between Asia and America) did not exceed thirty fathoms, and this depth was found in lat. 68° 45'; midway between the coast of Asia and the coast of America; northward beyond that latitude, the soundings were observed to decrease ; and, in our run from the coast of America westward, we did not find the depth to increase, as is usual in ruming from land, which peculiarities made us conclude that there was land at no great distance from us to the north, and that we were sailing in a parallel line with its coast.'

If there be any truth in the charts, or in the journals of Cap. tains Cook and Clerke, the soundings in 68° 45' about the middle between the two continents, were found to be twenty-eight and twenty-nine fathoms, while those farther north by nearly a whole degree of latitude, namely in 69° 30', instead of decreasing, are marked down at twenty-nine and thirty fathoms; but on this point we will not contend with Captain Burney for a few fathoms.* It is the latter part of his statement that principally calls for notice :• In our run from the coast of America westwurd, we did not find the depth to increase, as is usual in running from land. Now Captain Cook states distinctly that, “in approaching the American coast, the water shoaled gradually,' (vol. ii. p. 453;) and further, that, being obliged to anchor in sir fathoms, it was found, hy sending a boat to sound,' that the water shoaled gradually towards the land.'-Again, in standing to the westward, they soon got into deep water, (ibid.) ' As we advanced to the west, the

Admitting Captain Burey's statement to be correct, the reasoning is inconclusive. The Strait of Dover is the same depth, and a little more than half the width of the Strait of Behring; and though the sea shullows on both sides of it, yet is not closed by land on either. E E 2


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