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14th. A herd of fifteen deer were seen on the 15th; but those who saw them could not bring down any, as their fowling-pieces missed fire, from the moisture freezing on the locks. On the 17th and 18th herds of eleven and twenty respectively, were seen, and a small one was shot. A fox was caught on the 29th, which is described as equally cunning with his brethren of the temperate regions.
To make the long winter pass as cheerfully as possible, plays were acted, a school established, and a newspaper set on foot, certainly the first periodical publication that had ever issued from the Arctic regions. The title of this journal, the editorial duties of which were undertaken by Captain Sabine, was “The Winter Chronicle, or New Georgia Gazette." The first number appeared on the 1st of November.
On the evening of the 5th of November the farce of 6 Miss in her Teens” was brought out, to the great amusement of the ships' companies, and, considering the local difficulties and disadvantages under which the performers labored, their first essay, according to the officers' report, did them infinite credit. Two hours were spent very happily in their theater on the quarterdeck, notwithstanding the thermometer outside the ship stood at zero, and within as low as the freezing point, except close to the stoves, where it was a little higher. Another play was performed on the 24th, and so on every fortnight. The men were employed during the day in banking up the ships with snow.
On the 23d of December, the officers performed “The Mayor of Garrett,” which was followed by an afterpiece, written by Captain Parry, entitled the “NorthWest Passage, or the Voyage Finished.” The sun having long since departed, the twilight at noon was so clear that books in the smallest print could be distinctly read.
On the 6th of January, the farce of “ Bon Ton " was performed, with the thermometer at 270 below zero.The cold became more and more intense. On the 12th it was 51° below ze :o, in the open air ; brandy froze to
the consistency of honey; when_tasted in this state it left a smarting on the tongue. The greatest cold experienced was on the 14th of January, when the thiermometer fell to 52o below zero. On the 3d of February,
the sun was first visible above the horizon, after eighty-four days' absence. It was seen from the maintop of the ships, a height of about fifty-one feet above
On the forenoon of the 24th a fire broke out at the storehouse, which was used as an observatory. All hands proceeded to the spot to endeavor to subdue the flames, but having only snow to throw on it, and the mats with which the interior was lined being very dry, it was found impossible to extinguish it. The snow, however, covered the astronomical instruments and secured them from the fire, and when the roof had been pulled down the fire had burned itself out. Considerable as the fire was, its influence or heat extended but a very short distance, for several of the officers and men were frost-bitten, and confined from their efforts for several weeks. John Smith, of the Artillery, who was Captain Sabine's servant, and who, together with Sergeant Martin, happened to be in the house at the time the fire broke out, suffered much more severely. In their anxiety to save the dipping needle, which was standing close to the stove, and of which they knew the value, they immediately ran out with it; and Smith not having time to put on his gloves, had his fingers in half an hour so benumbed, and the animation so completely suspended, that on his being taken on board by Mr. Edwards, and having his hands plunged into a basin of cold water, the surface of the water was immediately frozen by the intense cold thus suddenly communicated to it; and notwithstanding the most humane and unremitting attention paid him by the medical gentlemen, it was found necessary, some time after, to resort to the amputation of a part of four fingers on one hand, and three on the other.
Parry adds, "the appearance which our faces presented at the fire was a curious one; almost every nose
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and cheek having become quite white with frost bites, in five minutes after being exposed to the weather, so that it was deemed necessary for the medical gentlemen, together with some others appointed to assist them, to go constantly round while the men were work. ing at the fire, and to rub with snow the parts affected, in order to restore animation."
The weather got considerably milder in March; on the 6th the thermometer got up to zero for the first time since the 17th of December. The observatory house on shore was now rebuilt.
The vapor, which had been in a solid state on the ship’s sides, now thawed below, and the crew, scraping off the coating of ice, removed on the 8th of March, above a hundred bucketsfull each, containing from five to six gallons, which had accumulated in less than a month, occasioned principally from the men's breath, and the steam of victuals at meals.
The scurvy now broke out among the crew, and prompt measures were taken to remedy it. Captain Parry took great pains to raise mustard and cress in his cabin for the men's use.
On the 30th of April, the thermometerstood at the freezing point, which it had not done since the 12th of September last.
On the 1st of May, the sun was seen at midnight for the first time that season.
A survey was now taken of the provisions, fuel, and stores; much of the lemon juice was found destroyed from the bursting in the bottles by the frost. Having been only victraled for two years, and half that period having expired, Captain Parry, as a matter of prudence reduced all hands to two-thirds allowance of all sorts of provisions, except meat and sugar.
The crew were now set to work in cutting away the ice round the ships: the average thickness was found to be seven feet. Many of the men who had been out on excursions began to suffer much from snow blind
The sensation when first experienced, is described as like that felt when dust or sand gets into the eyes. They were, however, cured in the course of
two or three days by keeping the eyes covered, and bathing them occasionally with sugar of lead, or some other cooling lotion.
To prevent the recurrence of the complaint, the men were ordered to wear a piece of crape or some substi. tute for it over the eyes.
The channel round the ships was completed by the 17th of May, and they rose nearly two feet, having been kept down by the pressure of the ice round them, although lightened during the winter by the consumption of food and fuel. On the 24th, they were astonished by two showers of rain, a most extraordinary phenomenon in these regions. Symptoms of scurvy
ain appeared among the crew; one of the seamen who had been recently cured, having imprudently been in the habit of eating the fat skimmings, or "slush,” in which salt meat had been boiled, and which was served out for their lamps. As the hills in many places now became exposed and vegetation commenced, two or three pieces of ground were dug up and sown with seeds of radishes, onions, and other vegetables. Captain Parry determined before leaving to make an excursion across the island for the purpose of examining its size, boundaries, productions, &c. Accordingly on the 1st of June, an expedition was organized, consisting of the commander, Captain Sabine, Mr. Fisher, the assistant-surgeon, Mr. John Nias, midshipman of the Hecla, and Mr. Reid, midshipman of the Griper, with two ser geants, and five seamen and marines. Three weeks provisions were taken, which, together with two tents: wood for fuel, and other articles, weighing in all about 800 lbs., was drawn on a cart prepared for the purpose by the men.
Each of the officers carried a knapsack with his own private baggage, weighing from 18 to 24 lbs., also his gun and ammunition. The party started in high glee, under three hearty cheers from their comrades, sixteen of whom accompanied them for five miles, carrying their knapsacks and drawing the cart for them. They traveled by night, taking rest by day, as it wo 4
found to be warmer for sleep, and they had only a cov ering of a single blanket each, beside the clothes they
On the 2d, they came to a small lake, about half a mile long, and met with eider-ducks and ptarmigan; seven of the latter were shot. From the top of a range of hills at which they now arrived, they could see the masts of the ships in Winter Harbor with the naked eye, at about ten or eleven miles distant. A vast plain was also seen extending to the northward and westward.
The party breakfasted on biscuit and a pint of gruel each, made of salep powder, which was found to be a very palatable diet. Reindeer with their fawns were met with.
They derived great assistance in dragging their cart by rigging upon it one of the tent-blankets as a sail, a truly nautical contrivance, and the wind favoring them, they made great progress in this way: Captain Sabine being taken ill with a bowel complaint, had to be conveyed on this novel sail carriage. They, however, had some ugly ravines to pass, the crossings of which were very tedious and troublesome. On the 7th the party came to a large bay, which was named after their ships, Hecla and Griper Bay. The blue ice was cut through by hard work with boarding pikes, the only instruments they had, and after digging fourteen and a half feet, the water rushed up; it was not very salt, but sufficient to satisfy them that it was the ocean.
Án island seen in the distance was named after Captain Sabine ; some of the various points and capes were also named after others of the party. Although this shore was found blocked up with such heavy ice, there appear to be times when there is open water here, for a piece of fir wood seven and a half feet long, and about the thickness of a man's arm, was found about eighty yards inland from the hummocks of the beach, and about thirty feet above the level of the sea. Before leaving the shore, a monument of stones, twelve feet high, was erected, in which were reposited, in a tin cylinder, an account of their