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them four days. The descent from hence to Fort Reliance occupied only a few days; but the day previous to their arrival they found it impossible to get their boat over the portage of Anderson's Falls, and were compelled to leave it behind.
At a short distance from Fort Reliance, and near to the mouth of the river which discharges the waters of the chain of large lakesthe Aylmer, the Clinton-Golden, and the Artillery-into the Great Slave Lake, is one of the grandest objects in nature, a tremendous waterfall, the description of which we must leave to Back:
'From the only point at which the greater part of it was visible, we could distinguish the river coming sharp round a rock, and falling into an upper basin almost concealed by intervening rocks; whence it broke in one vast sheet into a chasm between four and five hundred feet deep, yet in appearance so narrow that we fancied we could almost step across it. Out of this the spray rose in misty columns several hundred feet above our heads; but as it was impossible to see the main fall from the side on which we were, in the following spring I paid a second visit to it, approaching from the western bank. The road to it, which I then traversed in snow shoes, was fatiguing in the extreme, and scarcely less dangerous; for, to say nothing of the steep ascents, fissures in the rocks, and deep snow in the valleys, we had sometimes to creep along the narrow shelves of precipices slippery with the frozen mist that fell on them. But it was a sight which well repaid any risk. My first impression was of a strong resemblance to an iceberg in Smeerenberg Harbour, Spitzbergen. The whole face of the rocks forming the chasm was entirely coated with blue, green, and white ice, in thousands of pendent icicles; and there were, moreover, caverns, fissures, and overhanging ledges in all imaginable varieties of form, so curious and beautiful as to surpass any thing of which I had ever heard or read. The immediate approaches were extremely hazardous, nor could we obtain a perfect view of the lower fall, in consequence of the projection of the western cliffs. At the lowest position which we were able to attain, we were still more than a hundred feet above the level of the bed of the river beneath; and this, instead of being narrow enough to step across, as it had seemed from the opposite heights, was found to be at least two hundred feet wide.
The colour of the water varied from a very light to a very dark green; and the spray, which spread a dimness above, was thrown up in clouds of light grey. Niagara, Wilberforce's Falls in Hood's River, the falls of Kakabikka near Lake Superior, the Swiss or Italian falls, although they may each "charm the eye with dread," are not to be compared to this for splendour of effect. It was the most imposing spectacle I had ever witnessed; and, as its berg-like appearance brought to mind associations of another scene, I bestowed upon it the name of our celebrated navigator, Sir Edward Parry, and called it Parry's Falls.'—p. 451–453.
Among the many beautiful prints which decorate this work, we should have been glad to see one of this extraordinary cascade, but the continued volume of spray, which concealed the water, like that of an Iceland geyser, the difficulty of getting to any spot whence a view of the whole could be comprehended, and the horrible state of the weather, rendered it impossible to obtain any intelligible sketch of it. From this cataract, however, we may obtain a rough estimate of the whole fall of Back's River. Taking Lake Aylmer at 600 feet, which is as nearly as may be on the same level as Sussex Lake, the source of the Back, and Slave Lake at 200 feet above the level of the sea (as estimated on a former expedition), the whole fall of the Back, from Sussex Lake to the sea, will be 800 feet; and taking the length of the river at 620 English miles, the average fall will be 1-3 feet per mile.
We must not close the book without once more expressing our high opinion of its general interest—as depicting artlessly and unconsciously the noble mind and character of its author. It is needless, after the extracts we have given, to add that the narrative is clearly and vigorously penned. As a literary composition, indeed, it may perhaps rank higher than any former volume of that valuable library which we owe to the Marine Worthies engaged in the Northern expeditions.
Whether it be owing to the return of Back, or the fitting-out of ships of war to proceed in search of the unfortunate whalers, the public mind has again been turned with considerable zeal to the subject of northern geography and the north-west passage. Numerous propositions having been made to the Royal Geographical Society on the subject, they appointed a committee to collect the opinions of those best acquainted with what has been done and what still remains to be done. Three letters, one from Sir John Barrow, the President, a second from Dr. Richardson, and a third from Sir John Franklin, have been printed, and copies of them are now before us.
Sir John Barrow sets out by stating that the honour which England has acquired among the continental nations of Europe by her successful exertions in extending our knowledge of the globe, both by sea and land, has very naturally created in the public mind an ardent desire that further endeavours should be made to complete what has been left unfinished. He states his opinion that the practicability of a north-west passage, after the experience that has been acquired, will scarcely admit of a doubt; -that England would be held altogether inexcusable were she to suffer any other nation, by her own indifference to rob her of all her previous discoveries, by passing through the door which she had herself opened;-that the honour would descend upon him
who first stepped over the threshold, and not on him who led the way to it; just as Vasco de Gama has run away with the honour of having discovered the Cape of Good Hope, which had been passed ten years before by Bartholomew Diaz. He observes, that this is a question which has never been lost sight of by the government; that it was the favourite object of Elizabeth; that it has met with encouragement from almost every succeeding sovereign; that rewards have been offered by Parliament for its completion; and, in a word, that it has become distinctly and unequivocally a national object. He tells us there is at the Russian settlement close to Behring's Strait a bold, intelligent, and enterprising governor (the Baron Wrangel), whose mind is turned to geographical discovery, who has passed fifty-eight days on the Arctic Siberian Sea, and has two corvettes on his station-and that there is every reason to believe he waits only the consent of his government to try his fortune on an enterprise, the success of which would confer on his name immortal honour.
The water communication between the Atlantic and Pacific being fully established, the President goes on to explain the causes of the failures that have hitherto occurred. He says, the attempts can only be considered as experimental; that the proper route was unknown; that to pass the winter in the frozen ocean was new; that it was therefore quite natural to cling to some shore-and that hence originated the failures; that the heavy ice grounding on the coasts, especially on those of narrow straits, into which it has been drifted, not only endangered the safety of the ships, one of which was totally wrecked, a second nearly so, and a third abandoned-but, after being shut up for nine or ten months of the year, any attempt to make progress the second season was utterly paralyzed. He therefore recommends that king's ships, properly strengthened, should avoid the straits and shores, and keep to the broad and open sea, wholly free of ice in summer, and but partially covered in winter; he instances the Granville Bay whaler, as being shut up and drifted in the ice six hundred miles, without any material injury-and argues that a king's ship has therefore little to apprehend if so shut up.
He next asks, Where is this open sea to be found?' and answers the question by referring to the accounts given by Franklin, Richardson, Elson (the master of Beechey's ship) and Captain James Ross. From these it appears, that along the whole coast of America no land was seen to the northward, that the sea was mostly free from ice, and that the few small detached masses offered no obstruction to the navigation even of the Esquimaux canoes. Captain James Ross proceeded along the western coast of what has been improperly called Boothia (for Parry had discovered
and wintered on it), first to the northward, where he fixed the place of the magnetic pole, and then to the southward, where he erected his obelisk; but in no part of his journey did he see any land to the westward, nor any impediment to the navigation of that sea: this officer also states his opinion that this west coast trends northerly to Cape Walker, where Parry has described a wide opening to the southward. Sir John therefore concludes, and we think reasonably enough, that between the coast of America and the northern islands (Melville and others) there is a broad open sea, open enough for a ship of war to make her way through it.' As it has been proved that no difficulty exists in the passage through Lancaster Sound and Barrow's Strait, that open sea, it may be presumed, is easily attainable; and in such case,' says the President, I do not think it too much to express a hope that the passage (the north-west) would be accomplished, and perhaps in one year.'
The other two papers are purely geographical. Dr. Richardson recommends that an expedition should be sent over the same ground already traversed, to take up its winter quarters at the eastern end of Great Bear Lake; that from hence it should complete the survey of the coast to the westward of the Mackenzie River, and after that to the eastward of Point Turnagain. He then lays down the plan to be pursued, the number of men and boats to be employed, and cuts out work enough for at least a three years' expedition. He admits, however, that the eastern portion falls under the plan of Sir John Franklin, and that no better plan could be suggested.
This plan of Sir John Franklin is as follows:—that a ship, or two small vessels, with two boats, be sent to Wager River, which he supposes cannot be more than forty miles from the extremity of Prince Regent's Inlet; each boat to carry eight persons, with two months' provisions: the one to be employed in tracing the coast westward towards the part reached by Captain Back, and thence onwards to Point Turnagain; the other to follow the east shore of Prince Regent's Inlet, up to the Strait of Hecla and Fury. He lays down the detail of the plan for regulating the proceedings of the two parties, and their return to the ship or ships in Wager Bay. He recommends Captain James Ross and Captain Back as the most proper officers for carrying his plan into execution; and adds, in case of either of them not being at hand when the expedition ought to sail, I should feel the greatest pleasure in filling his place.' Since this, however, Sir John Franklin has obtained a more eligible employment, and a well-deserved reward of his noble career, in the pointment of governor of Van Diemen's Land.
Captain Beaufort, the masterly hydrographer of the Admiralty, appears to have been called in to pronounce an opinion on the above plans. He commences by observing that 'every year seems to bring forward some accession of interest to the great question of the north-west passage, and of the northern configuration of America.' He says that there is an open and, at times, a navigable sea passage between the Straits of Davis and Behring there can be no doubt in the mind of any person who has duly weighed the evidence; and it is equally certain that it would be an intolerable disgrace to this country were the flag of any other nation to be borne through it before our own;' that he is satisfied that the mode proposed by Sir John Barrow is the most prudent that could be adopted; that the eastern attempt by Cape Horn, advocated by some, would be highly imprudent, for reasons which he states but he thinks the Geographical Society should recommend to his Majesty's government a humble and more temporary field of action, more appropriate to the nature of the institution, more easy and economical in its execution, and more certain and rapid in its result; that to fix the proper moment for effecting the ambitious object of the north-west passage is solely the duty of government, and the resulting credit, both at home and throughout the world, ought to be solely theirs. He therefore recommends the Society to endeavour to prevail with the government to fit out a small expedition this summer for Wager Bay, according to the general plan of Sir John Franklin; and that it should leave England in May.
This recommendation, conveyed by a deputation of the Council of the Society, has, we understand, been favourably received by the two departments concerned-the Colonial Office and the Admiralty. As regards the present year, it is obviously too late to make preparations for the grand object of accomplishing the north-west passage. But we do confidently trust it will not be abandoned, and that the plan and route pointed out by the President of the Geographical Society, and sanctioned by the approbation of Captain Beaufort, will be adopted, and brought to a successful issue.
On No. CVI.-Article English Charity.'
We have received a letter from a clergyman who supposes himse f to be alluded to in page 520 of this article, which, on his partial recovery from a long and severe illness, had been put into his hands by his friends. The reverend gentleman states that the words and sentiments imputed to him in that passage convey a charge contradicted by his whole ministerial lifeare opposed to facts in the parish, which he is in a condition to prove-and