Abbildungen der Seite

other preservative, but the frost, to make them good wholesome eating, as long as the winter continues. All kinds of fish are pre. served in the like manner.

In large lakes and rivers, the ice is sometimes broken by impri. soned vapours; and the rocks, trees, joists, and rafters of our buildings, are burst with a noise not less terrible than the firing of a great many guns together. The rocks which are split by the frost, are heaved up in great heaps, leaving large cavities be

hind; which may be caused by imprisoned watery vapours, that · require more room, when frozen, than they occupy in their fluid

state. Neither is it wonderful that the frost should be able to tear up rocks and trees, and split the beams of our houses, when we consider its great force and elasticity. If beer or water be left in mugs, cans, bottles, or copper pots, though they were put by our, bed-sides, in a severe night they are split to pieces before morning, not being able to withstand the expansive force of the inclosed ice.

The air is filled with innumerable particles of ice, very sharp and angular, and plainly perceptible to the naked eye. Captain M. several times tried to make observations of some celestial bo. dies, particularly the immersions of Jupiter's satellites with reflect. ing and refracting telescopes : but the metals and glasses, by the time he could fix them to the object, were covered a quarter of an inch thick with ice, which rendered the object indistinct, so that it is not without great difficulties that any observations can be taken.

Bottles of stroog beer, brandy, strong brine, spirits of wine, set out in the open air for three or four hours, freeze to solid ice. He tried to get the sun's refraction to every degree above the horizon, with Elton's quadrant, but to no purpose, for the spirits froze almost as soon as brought into open air.

The frost is never out of the ground; how deep cannot be cer. tain. They have dug down ten or twelve feet, and found the earth hard frozen in the two summer months ; and what moisture is , found five or six feet down, is white like ice. The waters or rivers near the sea, where the current of the tide flows strong, do not freeze above nine or ten feet deep.

All the water used for cooking, brewing, &c. is melted snow and ice; no spring is yet found free from freezing, though dug erer so

deep down. All waters inland are frozen fast by the beginning of October, and continue so till the middle of May.

The walls of the house they lived in are of stone, two feet thick, the windows very small, with thick wooden shutters, which are close shut eighteen hours every day in the winter. There are cel. lars under the house, where are put the wines, brandy, strong beer, butter, cheese, &c. Four large fires are made in great stoves, built on purpose, every day. As soon as the wood is burnt down to a coal, the tops of the chimneys are close stopped with an iron cover: this keeps the heat within the house, though at the same time the smoke makes their heads ach, and is very offensive and unwholesome; notwithstanding which, in four or five hours after the fire is out, the inside of the walls of the house and bed. places will be two or three inches thick with ice, which is every morning cut away with a hatchet. Three or four times a day they make iron shot of twenty-four pounds weight red-hot, and hang them up in the windows of the apartments. Though a good fire be in the room the major part of the twenty-four hours, yet all this will not preserve the beer, wine, ink, &c. from freezing.

For a winter dress, they make use of three pair of socks of coarse blanketing, or Dutfield, for the feet, with a pair of deer-skin shoes over them; two pair of thick English stockings, and a pair of cloth stockings upon them; breeches lined with flannel ; two or three English jackets, and a fur or leather gown over them; a large beaver cap, double, to come over the face and shoulders, and a cloth of blanketing under the chin; with yarn gloves, and a large pair of beaver mittens, hanging down from the shoulders before, to put the hands in, which reach up as high as the elbows; yet not. withstandivg this warm cloathing, almost every day, some of the men that stir abroad, if any wind blows from the northward, are dreadfully frozen; some have their arms, hands, and face blistered and frozen in a terrible manner, the skin coming off soon after

they enter a warm house, and some have lost their toes. And • their confinement for the cure of these frozen parts, brings on the

scurvy in a lamentable manner. Many have died of it, and few are free from that distemper. And notwithstanding all endeavours, nothing will prevent that distemper from being mortal, but exer. cise and stirring abroad.

Coronæ and parhelia, commonly called halos and mock-suns,

appear frequently about the sun and moon here. They are seen once or twice a week about the sun, and once or twice a month about the moon, for four or five months in the winter, several coronæ of different diameters appearing at the same time. Five or six pa. rallel coronæ, concentric with the sun, are seen several times in the winter, being for the most part very bright, and always attended with parhelia or mock.sons. The parhelia are always accompa. nied with coronæ, if the weather be clear; and continue for se. veral days together, from the sun's rising to his setting. These rings are of various colours, and about forty or fifty degrees in diameter.

The frequent appearance of these phenomena in this frozen clime seems to confirm Descartes's hypothesis, who supposes them to proceed from ice suspended in the air.

The aurora borealis is much oftner seen here than in England; seldom a night passes in the winter free from their appearance. They shine with a surprising brightness, darkening all the stars and planets, and covering the whole hemisphere: their tremulous mo. tion from all parts, and their beauty and lustre, are much the same as in the northern parts of Scotland, Denmark, &e.

The dreadful long winters here may almost be compared to the polar parts, where the absence of the sun continues for six months; the air being perpetually chilled and frozen by the northerly winds in winter, and the cold fogs and mists obstructing the sun's beams in the short summer they have; for notwithstanding the snow and ice is then dissolved in the low-lands and plains, yet the mountains are perpetually covered with snow, and incredible large bodies of ice continue in the adjacent seas. When the wind blows from the southern parts, the air is tolerably warm ; but very cold when it comes from the northward ; and it seldom blows otherwise than between the north-east and north-west, except in the two summer months, when they have light gales between the east and the north, and calms.

The northerly winds being so extremely cold, is owing to the neighbourhood of high mountains, whose tops are perpetually co. vered with snow, which exceedingly chills the air passing over them. The fogs and mists, brought here from the polar parts in winter, appear visible to the naked eye in innumerable icicles, as

[ocr errors]

small as fine hairs or threads, and pointed as sharp as needles. These icicles lodge in the cloaths; and if the faces or hands be uncovered, they presently raise blisters as white as a linen cloth, and as hard as horn. Yet if they immediately turn their backs to the weather, and can bear a hand out of the mitten, and with it rub the blistered part for a small time, they sometimes bring the skin to its former state: if not, they make the best of their way to a fire, and get warm water, with which they bathe it, and so dissipate the hu. mours raised by the frozen air; otherwise the skin would be off in a short time, with much hot, serous, watery matter coming from under along with the skin; and this happens to some almost every time they go abroad for five or six months in the winter, so ex. tremely cold is the air when the wind blows any thing strong.

It is observed, that when it has been extreme hard frost by the thermometer, and little or no wind that day, the cold has not near so sensibly affected them, as when the thermometer has she wed much less freezing, having a brisk gale of northerly wind at the same time. This difference may perhaps be occasioned by those sharp-pointed icicles before mentioned striking more forcibly in a windy day than in calm weather, thereby penetrating the naked skin, or parts but thinly covered, and causing an acute sensation of pain or cold. And the same reason will probably hold good in other places.

It is not a little surprising to many, that such extreme cold should be felt in these parts of America, more than in places of the same latitude on the coast of Norway; but the difference seems to be occasioned by wind blowing constantly here, for seven months in the twelve, between the north-east and north-west, and passing over a large tract of land, and the exceedingly high mountains, &c. Whereas at Drontheim in Norway, as Captain M. observed some years ago in wintering there, the wind all the winter comes from the north worth-west, and crosses a great part of the ocean clear of those large bodies of ice found here perpetually. At this place they have constantly every year nine months frost and snow, and unsufferable cold from October till the beginning of May. In the long winter, as the air becomes less ponderous towards the polar parts, and nearer to an equilibrium, as it happens about one day in a week, they then have calms and light airs all round the compass, continuing sometimes twenty-four hours, and then back to its old place again, in the same manner as it happens every night in the West Indies, near some of the islands.

The snow that falls here is as fine as dust, but never any hail, except at the beginning and end of winter. Almost every full and change of the moon, very hard gales from the north. The constant trade-winds in these northern parts he thinks undoubtedly to pro. ceed from the same principle which Dr. Halley conceives to be the cause of the trade.winds near the equator, and their variations. For that the cold dense air, by reason of its great gravity, conti. nually presses from the polar parts towards the equator, where the air is more rarefied, to preserve an equilibrium or balance of the atmosphere, is very evident from the wind in those frozen regions blowing from the north and north-west, from the beginning of October till May; for when the sun, at the beginning of June, has warmed those countries to the northward, then the south-east, east and variable winds, continue till October again ; and doubtless the trade.winds and hard gales may be found in the southern polar parts to blow towards the equator, when the sun is in the northern signs, from the same principle.

The limit of these winds from the polar parts, towards the equa. tor, is seldom known to reach beyond the 30th degree of latitude ; and the nearer they approach to that limit, the shorter is the con. tinuance of those winds. In New England it blows from the north near four months in the winter ; at Canada, about five months ; at the Dane's settlement in Davis's Straits, in the 63d degree of latitude, near seven months ; on the coast of Norway, in 64', not above five months and a half, because blowing over a great part of the ocean, as before-mentioned; for those northerly winds conti. nue a longer or shorter time, as the air is more or less rarefied, which may very probably be altered several degrees, by the na. ture of the soil, and the situation of the adjoining continents.

The vast bodies of ice met with in the passage from England to Hudson's-bay, are very surprising, not only as to quantity, but magnitude, and as unaccountable how they are formed of so great a bulk, some of them being immersed 100 fathom or more under the surface of the ocean; and a fifth or sixth part above, and three or four miles in circumference. Some hundreds of these are sometimes seen in a voyage, all in sight at once, when the weather is clear. Some of them are frequently seen on the coasts and banks of Newfound.

« ZurückWeiter »