Imatges de pàgina

nos of the Aleutian islands ;* others again may explain it by a remark of Plutarch, which is supposed to have been confirmed by an experiment of Dr. Irving, when on Phipps's voyage,' that the sea becomes warmer by being agitated in waves;' but we are rather inclined to consider it as the lighter water rising from an extreme depth to the surface.

The hypothesis of an open polar sea rests, however, on better grounds than any of these. The instances of ships having reached high northern latitudes, collected by the Hon. Daines Barrington, may not all be correctly stated, but many of them bear the stamp of authenticity, and have been confirmed by similar instances since his time. He might be deceived by some of the narrators being themselves deceived; but we have no doubt of his having stated fairly the facts as they were given to him. This we know to be the case in the instance of Adams, who sailed with Captain Guy in the Unicorn, and who himself observed the altitude of the sun, both above and below the pole, by which it was found that the ship had reached latitude 83°. There is a gentleman now living in London, and distinguished in the literary world, who took lessons in the mathematics from Adams; this person knew him to be a man of intelligence and worthy of credit, and had from him the same account which he afterwards gave to Daines Barrington. When in this high latitude, 'Captain Guy declared that he had never been so far to the northward before, and crawled up to the mizzen top-mast head, accompanied by the chief mate, whilst the second mate, together with Mr. Adams, went to the fore-topmast head, from which they saw a sea as free from ice as any part of the Atlantic Ocean, and it was the joint opinion of them all that they might have reached the north pole." In one point almost all the masters examined by Daines Barrington, and all those of whom we have thought it our duty to inquire, both personally and by letter, and they are not a few, agree; namelythat having once passed the Spitzbergen ice, they find the sea to the northward quite open; that the northerly winds bring clearer and warmer weather than any other; and that the winds from that quarter cause the greatest swell, all of which are circumstances highly favourable to the supposition of an open sea at the pole.

It is the less surprizing that none have yet attempted to avail . themselves of this open sea to run for the pole, when the nature of the oath is recollected, which both master and mate were required to take, but which we rejoice to find has, since our former Article

⚫ Unfortunately, we have not a single experiment of the temperature of the sea, either at the surface or bottom, in Behring's Strait; but it is well known that the gulf stream loses its temperature very slowly in its passage of more than fifteen hundred miles to the cold banks of Newfoundland.


was written, (and, let us be indulged with thinking, not altogether without a reference to it,) been so modified as no longer to militate against making discoveries: before the present year the whalers had no excuse for leaving the ice; the paucity of fish to the northward could neither have justified the attempt to the owners, nor freed the master from the consequences of his oath. A graduated scale of the parliamentary reward, as we suggested, has also been adopted, which, we have no doubt, will operate as an encourage. ment to attempt discoveries, even should the present expeditions fail; though it would seem that some of the seamen entertain strange notions and very singular apprehensions of approaching the pole-not, indeed, of any danger from ice or cold; but, as appears from Ware's narrative to Daines Barrington,--' lest the ship should fall in pieces, as the pole would draw all the iron work out of her.'

If the tables of Meyer be near the truth, and Scoresby be correct in his statement, that the cold is not sensibly different between the latitudes of 70° and 80° with a strong north wind;'* if, on these grounds, we assume an hypothesis, that the mean temperature of the pole is not very different from that of the arctic circle, there can be nothing very formidable in the approach to it, or even in wintering upon it. In summer, from the perpetual presence of the sun for six months, and his equal height above the horizon for the whole twenty-four hours, the weather there would probably be found less severe than on the parallel of 80°; and the long twilight, which spins out the close of the summerday to nearly nine months, and leaves but three of actual night, must divest winter, by thus shortening it, of at least one of its terrors. In those three months, besides, every alternate fortnight will have the benefit of constant moon-light during the most enlightened half of that planet; and, even in her absence, the whole of the grand northern constellations will in some degree supply her place, aided, in all probability, by the frequent coruscations of the aurora borealis. To witness these and other meteorological appearances, and more particularly the magnetical phenomena as connected with electricity, are objects for which an enterprizing man of science would be induced to risk a winter at the pole;+ we

Mem. of the Wernerian Nat. Hist. Society, vol. ii. Part II. p. 332.

He (Dr. Johnson) expressed a particular enthusiasm with respect to visiting the wall of China. I catched at it for the moment, and said I really believed I should go and see the wall of China had I not children, of whom it was my duty to take care, Sir,' said he, by doing so you wou'd do what would be of importance in raising your children to eminence. There would be a lustre reflected upon them from your spirit and curiosity. They would be at all times regarded as the children of a man who had gone to view the wall of China.'-Boswell's Life of Dr. Johnson. FF3


have heard, indeed, that it is the general wish of the officers now employed on the polar expedition, that circumstances may occur to admit of such an event without deviating from their instructions; but that we conceive is very improbable.

We suspect that the wintering place of Kotzebue may not have been more comfortable than on the pole itself. Had he succeeded in getting through to Baffin's or Hudson's bay, or in returning, before the winter of 1817 set in, to Kamtschatka, intelligence to that effect must have reached Petersburgh before the end of March. It is a mistaken idea, however, that he was to make the attempt by sea. His instructions, on the contrary, direct him to leave his vessel in Norton Sound, unless he should discover (which he actually has done) some cove or bay. to the northward. From this place he is to explore the whole extent of the American coast, first to the northward and then to the eastward. To effect this, he is to supply himself with small baidars of the lightest and most portable kind, to enable him to cross any rivers or lakes he may fall in with in tracing the American coast to the eastward; in which direction he is to proceed as far as the eastern coast, unless, from the severity of the climate or barrenness of the country, the journey be found impracticable. In August 1816, he passed Behring's Strait without difficulty; and, in latitude 67°, discovered on the coast of America a large inlet, extending in a S. E. direction to 161° of longitude. Within it were several bays or coves, which he had not time to explore, from the advanced period of the season. He therefore returned to New Albion to pass the winter, and reached Sandwich islands in March 1817, since which nothing has been heard of his proceedings. This is not the only project which Count Romanzoff (whose liberal and patriotic spirit is worthy of the highest admiration) had planned for the solution of the interesting geographical problem which still remains to be solved. He had intended to engage some enterprizing American in the attempt of a north-west passage up Davis's Strait, but on hearing of the present expedition from England, he considered his interference as no longer necessary.

What the result of the present expeditions may be, and whether they will answer the expectations of those who planned them, a little time must shew; from the zeal, the energy, the talent and the enthusiasm of the brave volunteers--for all, without exception, are volunteers, from the highest to the lowest-who have embarked on this highly interesting voyage, we may assure ourselves that what man can do will be done, and that all the difficulties which may occur, and for which they are fully prepared, will be met with cool and steady resolution. Unshaken in their ardour,


they have treated with scorn the insidious attempts which we understand have been made to discourage them from the glorious enterprize.

With equal contempt we notice (in quarters, too, where decency ought to have imposed silence) insinuations of the inutility of the measure. A philosopher should despise the narrowminded notions entertained by those who, viewing the subject as merely one of profit and loss, are unable to form any other notion of its utility; and have just sagacity enough to discover that if a passage should be found one year, it may happen to be closed the next! We can well imagine that many such sinister bodings were heard when Bartholomew Diaz returned without doubling the Cape of Good Hope, and even when Magelhanes had effected a southern passage into the Pacific.-But our decreasing limits

warn us to a close.

Briefly, then, we shall not degrade the noblest and most disinterested enterprize that was ever undertaken in ancient or modern times, by condescending to justify it to the selfish and calculating horde whose cavils we have recorded; but to the liberal and honourable mind that thinks the pursuit of science for the sake of science, worthy of a great, a prosperous, and an enlightened nation like England, we would say that the point in question involves an infinity of results of the utmost importance to the perfection of science; that the benefits of science are not to be calculated; and that no guess can be formed to what extent they may be carried. Who could have imagined that the polarity of the magnet, which lay hid for ages after its attractive virtue was known, would lead to the discovery of a new world? and who can tell what further advantages mankind may derive from the magnetical influence, so very remarkable, yet so very little understood? or pretend to limit the discoveries to which electricity and galvanism may yet open the way? Had any one, thirty years ago, been bold enough to assert that he would light up our shops and houses, and theatres and streets, with a more brilliant flame than had yet been produced; that this flame should be extracted from common fuel, and carried for miles, if necessary, under ground in iron pipes, he would at once have been set down as little better than a madman or an impostor; yet all this and more has been brought about! We may be mistaken in our conjectures respecting the current and polar basin-every thing, excepting the facts we have brought forward, may be just the reverse of what we have here contended for; and both expeditions may fail in the main object of the arduous enterprize; but they can scarcely fail in being the means of extending the sphere of human knowledge; and if they



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they bring back an accession of this, they cannot be said to have been sent out in vain-for 'knowledge is power;' and we may safely commit to the stream of time the beneficial results of its irresistible influence.

ART. IX.-Characters of Shakespear's Plays. By William Hazlitt. Svo. London. 1817.

WHEN we called the attention of our readers to Mr. Beckett's Shakspeare's himself again,' we little flattered ourselves that another writer would arise, so well qualified as the author of the work before us, to contend with him for the palm of critical excellence. Their objects are indeed different; but in point of taste and knowledge, they coincide in a very remarkable degree. Mr. Beckett informed us that no one, who did not study his book, could comprehend Shakspeare's meaning. Mr. Hazlitt does not undertake to make us understand the poet better, and in truth he is sometimes not very intelligible himself; but he endeavours to persuade us that, without his assistance, we shall be incapable of feeling his beauties. Mr. Beckett's qualifications must be gathered from the perusal of his work; but the peculiar excellencies of Mr. Hazlitt have been pointed out by a friend and admirer who is himself the great sublime he draws. They principally consist in his indestructible love of flowers and odours, and dews, and clear waters, and soft airs and sounds, and bright skies, and woodland solitudes, with moonlight bowers.'

Thus gifted, it may be supposed that Mr. Hazlitt is not inclined to speak with much respect of his critical predecessors. He mentions, indeed, with some indulgence, a parallel between the characters of Macbeth and Richard, by a gentleman of the name of Mason (not Mason the poet)-such is his accurate mode of describing the late Mr. Whateley!-but he pours the whole weight of his censure on Dr. Johnson. He scarcely thinks his preface worthy of perusal, and has therefore read it so hastily that he does not seem to have understood one word of it: hence he charges the Doctor with supporting opinions which he never entertained, and some of which, indeed, he has expressly opposed. We shall not misspend our own and the reader's time by entering into a formal defence of one of the most perfect pieces of criticism which has appeared since the days of Quintilian, but content ourselves with producing a specimen of the erudition by which it has been assailed. Johnson's object, he tells us, was to cut down imagination to matter-of-fact, regulate the passions according to reason, and translate


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