Page images

readers—and not, perhaps, very well calculated for being read at all in the pages of a Miscellaneous Journal. We have gratified ourselves, however, in again going over it, and hope we have not much wearied our readers. It is followed by a very striking copy of verses written at Pæstum in 1816—and more characteristic of that singular and most striking scene, than any thing we have ever read, in prose or verse, on the subject. The ruins of Pæstum, as they are somewhat improperly called, consist of three vast and massive Temples, of the most rich and magnificent architecture, which are not ruined at all, but as entire as on the day when they were built, while there is not a vestige left of the city to which they belonged. They stand in a desert and uninhabited plain, which stretches for many miles from the sea to the mountains--and, after the subversion of the Roman greatness, had fallen into such complete oblivion, that for nearly nine hundred years they had never been visited or heard of by any intelligent person, till they were accidentally discovered about the middle of last century.—The whole district in which they are situated, though once the most fertile and flourishing part of the Tyrrhene shore, has been almost completely depopulated by the Malaria, and is, in every sense of the word, a vast and dreary desert. The following lines seem to us to tell all that need be told, and to express all that can be feit of a scene so strange and so mournful.

• They stand between the mountains and the sea ;

Awful memorials, but of whom we know not!
The seaman, passing, gazes from the deck.
The buffalo-driver, in his shaggy cloak,
Points to the work of magic and moves on.
Time was they stood along the crowded street,
Temples of Gods! and on their ample steps
What various habits, various tongues beset
The brazen gates for prayer and sacrifice !

centuries did the sun go round
From Mount Alburnus to the Tyrrhene sea,
While, by some spell rendered invisible,
Or, if approached, approached by him alone
Who saw as though he saw not, they remained
As in the darkness of a sepulchre,
Waiting the appointed time! All, all within
Proclaims that Nature had resumed her right,
And taken to herself what man renounced ;
No cornice, triglyph, or worn abacus,
But with thick ivy hung or branching fern,
Their iron-brown o'erspread with brightest verdure !

From my youth upward have I longed to tread

This classic ground. - And am I here at last ? VOL. XXXI. NO. 62.


Wandering at will through the long porticoes,
And catching, as through some majestic grove,
Now the blue ocean, and now, chaos-like,
Mountains and mountain-gulphs, and, half-way up,
Towns like the living rock from which they grew ?
A cloudy region, black and desolate,
Where once a slave withstood a world in arms.

The air is sweet with violets, running wild
Mid broken sculptures and fallen capitals;
Sweet as when Tully, writing down his thoughts,
Sailed slowly by, two thousand years ago,
For Athens; when a ship, if north-east winds
Blew from the Pæstan gardens, slacked her course.
The birds are hushed awhile; and nothing stirs,
Save the shrill-voiced cigala flitting round
On the rough pediment to sit and sing;
Or the green lizard rustling through the grass,
And up the fluted shaft with short quick motion,
To vanish in the chinks that Time has made.

In such an hour as this, the sun's broad disk
Seen at his setting, and a flood of light
Filling the courts of these old sanctuaries,
(Gigantic shadows, broken and confused,
Across the innumerable columns flung)
In such an hour he came, who saw and told,
Led by the mighty Genius of the Place!
Walls of some capital city first appeared,
Half razed, half sunk, or scattered as in scorn ;
-And what within them ? what but in the midst
These Three in more than their original grandeur,
And, round about, no stone upon another?
As if the spoiler had fallen back in fear,

And, turning, left them to the elements.'
The volume ends with a little ballad, entitled “The Boy of
Egremond'-- which is well enough for a Lakish ditty, but not
quite worthy of the place it holds.

Arr. V.-A Voyage of Discovery, made under the Orders of the

Admiralty, in His Majesty's Ships Iscöella and Alexander, for the Purpose of exploring Baffin's Bay, and inquiring into the Probatility of a North-West Passage. By John Ross, K. S. Captain Royal Navy. Murray, London, 1819. The antient connexion of the Basin and the Pole, is well

known to that part of the learned world which has devoted itself to the study of our sign-posts, and the head armour of Don Quixote:-and we suppose it is to this venerable association that we are indebted for the happy phrase of the Po

[ocr errors]

lar Basin, of which it has been our lot to hear so much for the last twelve months.

For our own parts, we have no objection to a Polar Basinprovidied only that it can be found. But we cannot be brought to consider it as an article of prime necessity-and do not yet see why we should be out of humour either with Nature or our Navigators, although it should turn out that there was no such thing. It is curious indeed to see how fashions change---and how little more reasonable we are for all our learning. In the days of Captain Cook, all the world was for a Polar Continenta Terra Australis ;-and yet we do not remember that any body abused that great navigator for failing to discover it, or reporting that it did not exist.--Now, however, the rage is for a Polar Basin-and we think, there are evident symptoms of very ungrateful dissatisfaction with Captain Ross and his associates, because they have exposed themselves to great toils and perils, with the same negative success.- But in truth it is absurd to hold that there can be any want of success in an actual survey of regions previously unexplored—or that it can make any difference to the cause of geographical science, with what substances such regions may be bounded. It would have been a discovery if Captain Cook had found an Austral Continent, and it would have been a discovery if Captain Ross had found a North-West Passage. But if it was a discovery in the former to ascertain that there was no such land, it must be equally so in the latter to have ascertained that there is no such passage. The one found only ice, where his employers hoped he might find land, -and the other found only land, where they had set their hearts upon his finding water.- But both have equally extended our actual knowledge of the globe, and enabled us to determine with precision much that was formerly disputed.

Captain Ross appears to have done his duty with great diligence, courage and ability; and to have told his story very clearly and honestly. But we cannot say that he has made a very interesting or entertaining book of it-or that his voyages are likely to go through as many editions as those of Captain Cook; on the contrary, we must fairly say, that we have found this work very heavy reading, and that it appears to us to be encumbered with details which might very well have been spored. It is our duty, however, to lay before our readers as clear and suc. cinct an account of it as we can.

On the 18th of April 1818, the Isabella and Alexander, the former conimanded by Captain Ross, and the latter by Lieutenant Parry, dropped down the river, and, until the 30th of the same month, were occupied in reaching Shetland. The activity of the men of science here burst forth with all the zeal to be expected from new naturalists, burning to try the temper of their hammers upon Northern rocks, and to stain their maiden nippers in the blood of the first butterfly. The bones of a whale were brought triumphantly on board- as parts of the skeleton of a mammoth.

On the third of May the signal was made for sailing; and here the voyage may be said to have commenced. The first nautical observation of importance, occurred on the 8th of this month, and it serves to nullify the place, if not the existence of Oloff Kramer's bank. This remark is shortly followed by a similar one, on the Sunken land of Buss; ''in which, also, we infer that Captain Ross is an unbeliever. The first ice was seen on the 26th of May, nearly in the latitude of Cape Farewell. Pennant attempts to describe from others, what he had never seen himself, the singular splendour of colouring, and the infinitude of strange and picturesque forms, which these masses assume. Captain Ross, who, as we understand, was long employed in surveying the White Sea, must have often seen them: But he seems to us to have failed nearly as much as the other; and, indeed, we are persuaded, that the ideas of visible objects, to which there is nothing analogous in ordinary experience, can never be communicated by mere description. Nor has Captain Ross's draftsman made them very palpable to the sense.

Ice was now met with every day, and the weather was found variable, while the ships held their course in a north-westerly direction, towards the entrance of Baffin's Bay, very absurdly called Davis's Strait. Here, on the first of June, a certain memorial of the date and ships' place was committed to the waves in a bottle; a practice resorted to on various other occasions throughout the voyage, for the purpose of ascertaining, in the event of their being afterwards found, the direction and the velocity of the current which sets through the north-west passage, and out of-the Polar Basin.

The temperature at this time was about the freezing point; that of the surface of the water and the air differing by about two degrees. The observations of this nature are very profusely scattered through the Journal; but having been very sensibly brought into one general view in a Table, we shall pay no further attention to them in this sketch of the voyage. On the 4th of June, the first positive decision is made respecting the non-existence of a current; although the bottle, pursuant to orders, is still very properly sent afloat, to sail down the stream of time. The first remarks which have met us on the deviation of the magnetic needle, in consequence of the ship's attraction, are here also made. This fact, as our nautical and philosophical readers know, was originally pointed out by Captain Flinders,—and it appears to have occupied a considerable share of Captain Ross's attention; but as it is treated in some detail in a separate memoir, it may also be passed over for the present. It is more material to observe, that we are here ar gain assured, that there was no current ; which appeared surprising, as the wind had blown for three successive days directly down the strait.' The island of Disco was seen on the 9th of June; but no material observations appear to have been made between this period and the 14th, when the Expedition reached Whale Island,—the usual nautical remarks occupying this portion of the Journal. An important report from the Inspector of the Danish settlement is here quoted; and it seems not a little at variance with the popular belief which preceded, and seems in a eat measure to have given birth to, the Expedition. We are there informed, that the winter had been unusually severe; the sea being frozen near his station early in December, when it was generally frozen only about the middle of February. Love Bay, and Waygatt's Strait, were still frozen: he had been resident in Greenland seven years, and had remarked that the severity of the cold increased.' How are we to reconcile this statement with the breaking up of the polar ice, with cycles of seasons, and the approach of those halcyon days, when every potatoe-field in England shall become a vineyard, and even the John Barleycorn of our native poet give way to native claret and champagne ? Even the burning rays of the aurora borealis itself seem, in Inspector Flushe's opinion, to have fallen blunted from the adamantine sea that hemmed in his friends, and compelled them to eat their dogs instead of scals ;-which, after all, was no very bad change of diet.

It appears that the Esquimaux can here see the opposite land across the strait in a clear day; an observation afterwards confirmed by the experience of Captain Ross's officers. As the distance cannot be much less than 200 miles, that land must be very high ; although much must also be attributed to the effects of horizontal refraction. The height from which the natives see this land cannot exceed 1000 feet, as the hills are rarely accessible to a higher point, by reason of the ice and snow. A current was here observed running south, at the rate of a quarter of a mile an hour: But there is no reason to think that it comes from the Polar Basin. In many cases, these currents appear, from the Journal itself, to be merely the tide-currents, and alter their directions in a few hours, as that changes. In other cases, they are the result of the winds, which, acting on the loose ice, and impelling it forward, the water necessarily follows to fill up the wake, thus producing the superficial and

« PreviousContinue »