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roads, his fields, his building materials, his means of shelter and security, his grandest scenery, his only home.
It is the inhabitant of the temperate zone who best appreciates the vicissitudes occasioned by the freezing and thawing of lakes and rivers, the impressive grandeur of snowy mountains, the majestic march of glaciers, the rush of avalanches, the wonders of the frozen seas. It is he who conducts the work of exploration, and describes to the rest of the world the peculiarities of the arctic regions, and the terrific dangers which beset the voyagers. From this source we gain our ideas of the grandeur, combined with beauty and magnificence, of arctic and antarctic scenery.
What, for instance, can be more impressive than the accounts of that vast elevated table-land, covered with ice, which forms the coast of Greenland, stretching northward to an unknown extent, and bounded by mountains which rise perpendicularly from the sea, and whose summits, 2,000 feet high, are enveloped in clouds ? The gloomy grandeur of that coast is relieved by fiords or clefts in the rocks, forming deep inlets in the land: these sometimes sparkle in sunshine, sometimes lie wrapt in the deepest shade; but the rocky wall itself has this distinctive feature, in common with the vast plain of which it is the boundary and support; it is capped with a thick covering of ice, which stretches in a continuous field over the land, overlaps its rocky edges, and dips in icy platforms
through the fiords into the sea. But when we speak of a thick covering of ice, we have greatly to enlarge any notions which we may have gained from the thickest ice of our own rivers. The icy covering of Greenland, the vast curtain spread over the land, and dipping down in festoons over the clefts in the rocks, is stated to be 1,000 feet in thickness, the computation being made between the parallels 67 and 73° N. lat. Instead of the leaden hue which characterises ice in our own country, the ice of the arctic regions is beautifully transparent and compact, with tints of blue, green, and orange, which richly embroider those barren rocks and shores. The fiords partake of the vastness of that wonderful land; they sometimes wind like rivers 100 miles into the interior, and terminate in glaciers, which eventually find their way to the sea by the path thus afforded them, completely filling up the fiord, and projecting beyond it; till, undermined by the surges, a huge mass becomes detached, and falls into the sea with a crash like thunder, and a commotion of the waves which is said to extend to a distance of sixteen miles. Thus are formed those majestic and wonderful objects, the icebergs of the arctic seas, whose cold breath petrifies with dread the luckless voyagers who are drifting between them, and whose grip, unless it can be averted, may crush their ship, as if it were an egg-shell.
These floating mountains of ice are constantly moving about, and are sometimes so numerous, as
to hem in a ship for days and weeks together, threatening it with destruction. Some of these icebergs rise 150 feet above the surface of the water, and as, from their weight, not more than a seventh or an eighth part is ever visible, their absolute height must be 900 or 1,000 feet. With this enormous height, they are often more than a mile in circumference; and as they float in the sea, exposed to the melting influence of the waves and currents, and are wafted into the warmer regions of the Atlantic, they assume a variety of strange forms. Some resemble palaces, churches, or old castles, with spires, towers, windows, and arched gateways of the purest marble, or, when lit up by the sun, of the finest silver., Others appear like ships, trees, animals, or human beings—the productions of some gigantic sculptor. When seen from the distance of a few miles, they have very much the appearance of a mountainous country. Their colours are also extremely beautiful; some brilliant as burnished silver, others reflecting the colours of the rainbow-bright green, blue, and orange being the prevailing tints; and even at night their lustre enables them to be distinguished from afar. But it is only from a distance that they are regarded with admiration. On approaching them, the air is felt to be cooled by their presence, a circumstance which frequently warns the navigator by night of his danger; but sometimes the whalers seek the shelter of an iceberg from the violence of the gale, and also from other descrip
tions of ice which float past with considerable speed, while, from its vast size and depth in the water, the iceberg moves but slowly. There are, however, some dangers to a ship in being moored to the frozen cliff; large fragments of ice, from the under part of the mass, frequently dart up to the surface, and often strike holes in the ship's bottom; projecting points, a little below the surface, may also pierce the planking; the strong current which generally runs along the side of an iceberg may dash the vessel against it. But, perhaps, the greatest danger arises from the circumstance, that an iceberg is sometimes so nicely balanced in the water, that if a large piece break off on one side, the whole mass will suddenly turn over, and stave or wreck the vessel, producing at the same time vast waves to a considerable distance around, sufficient to overwhelm all smaller craft.
The icy regions of the south pole are not less magnificent than those of the north. The first sight of the antarctic continent was gained on the 11th of January, 1841, by Sir James C. Ross, and is described by R. M'Cormick, Esq., surgeon of the Erebus, as indicating by its general outline a volcanic origin, “rising steeply from the ocean in a stupendous mountain range, peak above peak enveloped in perpetual snow, and clustered together in countless groups, resembling a vast mass of „crystallisation, which, as the sun's rays were reflected on it, exhibited a scene of such unequalled magnificence and splendour as would bafile all power of language to portray, or give the faintest conception of.” An active volcano, which they named Mount Erebus, rose 12,367 feet above the level of the sea, and was covered with ice and snow from its base to its summit, whence proceeded dense columns of black smoke, towering above the other numerous cones and peaks. More extraordinary than all, perhaps, was a vast barrier of ice, varying in height from 200 to 100 feet, which was traced by the voyagers, in one unbroken line, for a distance of 300 miles, and which completely shut them out from this volcanic region.
Few, comparatively speaking, are the individuals who have been privileged to observe and to describe the wonders of the ice and snow in polar regions ; but numerous, in these days of travel, are those who have witnessed their varied phenomena on Alpine heights, or on the great rivers of northern Europe and America. To such travellers we are indebted for numerous books, pamphlets, memoirs in scientific journals, and lively sketches of explorations among the ice.
the ice. An emulation has sprung up amongst several of these travellers to ascend the highest mountain in Europe; accordingly the ascent of Mont Blanc's majestic elevation of 15,744 feet is no longer a wonderful event, demanding a book to itself for the necessary description and celebration of the marvel, but it has become a mere episode in an ordinary tour, a feat and exploit held out for the imitation of other travellers. When we read that 95 square miles of snow and ice cover