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ashes ; and in the bottom of the crater and all around the margins of the peninsula are masses of shells and gravel, the same as now prevail in the sea around, and exactly similar to those on the raised beaches of India and of Suez.
Note by Captain Haines.-The latitude of the Straits of Babelmandeb I do not think correct. I found soundings all the way across just outside the Red Sea ; greatest depth 198 fathoms.
There are, no doubt, many reefs in existence not yet discovered : I reported one in April last, upon which an Arab ship struck.
The height of the water within the Red Sea depends upon the seasons; and after strong N.N.W. winds the shoals in the north part are dry in many places : even the shoals in the centre are influenced in the same way. The Durable Shoal can be landed on at times.
In January and February it more frequently blows strong from S.S.E. up the sea in the lower part, and the contrary from N.N.W, in June, July, and August. -S. B. H.
VIII.—Extract of a Letter from Captain Spratt, R.N., on Crete.
Communicated by Colonel LEAKE, F.R.G.S.
Read March 13, 1854. I MADE an interesting discovery in the western part of the island, viz., that it has been subject to a series of elevations, amounting to the maximum of 24 feet 6 inches, which occurs near Pækilassos and Suia. In the middle of the island, at Messara, the Fair Havens, and Megalo Kastro, there is none. The eastern end of the island has dipped a little. The upheaving is towards the western end. I had observed it to be about 7 feet in Suda Bay many years ago; but supposed it to be of a time prior to history, although there was a freshness in the markings which might have induced me to suspect they were of a more recent date. When at Kissamo, I observed that the ancient mole was remarkably high out of the water, and the port almost choked by sand. But the latter is so common an occurrence that it did not open my eyes, although the height of the naked unhewn rocks which formed the mole ought to have done so. On going to Phalasarna I looked for its ancient port, mentioned by Scylax, and in the Stadiasmus as the Emporium ; but I could find no artificial work in the sea. There is, however, a long ledge of rocks, or rather an islet which lies off it, helping to form a natural but not an artificial harbour. This satisfied ine in part, till, on examining the ruins, I saw in the plain a square place, enclosed by walls and towers, more massive and solid than those of the city. Pashley describes them without having been sensible of their purpose. I was instantly impressed, for several reasons, that here was the ancient or artificial port, although full 200 yards from the sea and nearly 20 feet above it. My first idea was, that the ancients had the means of hauling their vessels into it as a dry dock; but at last the coast elevation was remembered, and on measuring the sea marks at its upper level here, I found that the bed of this ancient port is now 3 or 4 feet below that level ; so that I had only to imagine the coast again let down 22 feet 6 inches, the amount it has been elevated here and at Grabusa, when the sea would iminediately flow into the ancient port, and float any small craft within it. Geologically the recognition of this ancient port, has another interest; it establishes the recent origin of this remarkable upheaving of the western end of Crete, which, however, is not surprising, as elsewhere ancient harbours have been lifted into the air, rocks have become islets, and maritime cities or buildings placed many yards from the shore. These facts will enable me to reconcile in some instances the ancient geography with the modern, and thus to verify points otherwise very difficult. For example, Suia is noticed in the Stadiasmus as a town with a good port (Todos éti xai aspéva vanor = xE1), and as following next to Pakilassos, its position is easily recognized. There are so few of the ports of Crete so described in the Stadiasmus, that I naturally looked for a well-sheltered harbour. Pashley says nothing about it, and to look at the locality, few would hope to find a port. A straight and steep shingle beach, off which there is no anchorage, stretches across the mouth of the valley of Suia, and beyond the points of the hills on either side. These points, however, were sea-cliffs, formerly rising out of the beach, to about the height of 23 feet; and on them the old sea level is shown distinctly by the appearance of the rock, as well as by a line of cylindrical holes, the cells of boring sea-shells, in some of which the shells still remain. Pashley speaks of the town and ruins of Suia as lying on the E. side of the torrent or valley, but takes no notice of the western side, where a little plain within a long ridge of ruined buildings, and nearly 300 yards long and 60 or 70 broad, runs parallel to the shore. This was undoubtedly the tongue of land which sheltered the port lying behind it. The position of the port itself is indicated by a hollow or flat depression of the plain, which depression would even now be overflowed by the sea, if the island was again let down to its old level. Hence it seems evident that this great elevation of the coast must be looked upon as subsequent to the existence of these ancient cities, and subsequent, therefore, to the decline of the Roman Empire.
IX. - Discovery of the North-West Passage. By Commander R. M-CLURE, of H.M.S. “Investigator' (Gold Medallist).
Communicated by Sir GEORGE Back, R.N.
Read November 14, 1854. It will be remembered that among the many ships fitted out by her Majesty's Government expressly for service in the Polar Sea were the Enterprise and Investigator. Nothing that ingenuity could devise or experience suggest was omitted in order to fortify them against collision with the ice. They were equipped with a warm-air apparatus, had a large supply of extra stores, and were furnished with provisions for three years. The first was commanded by Captain Collinson, C.B., and the second by Commander Robert M.Clure; and they were ordered to proceed with all possible dispatch to Behring Strait, so as to arrive at the edge of the ice before the 1st of August. They were to bear in mind that the object of the expedition was to obtain intelligence, and to render assistance to Sir John Franklin and his companions, and not for the purposes of geographical or scientific research.
Furthermore, it was thought “ unnecessary to give you more detailed instructions which might possibly embarrass you, in a service of this description; and we have therefore only to repeat our perfect reliance in your judgment and resolution, both in doing all that is possible to relieve the missing ships and in withdrawing in time when you come to the painful conclusion that your efforts are unavailing."
The Enterprise and Investigator left Plymouth on the 20th of January, 1850 ; and a short trial in the rate of sailing soon convinced Commander M.Clure of the inferiority of his ship, which would consequently be left far astern in the long race before them. A week had scarcely passed when they separated in a gale of wind, and did not again meet till the Investigator arrived at the Straits of Magellan, where the Enterprise had been eight days. Having been towed through by her Majesty's ship Gorgon, the same result took place in the fresh start, and on reaching Honolulu, five days later than her consort, Commander M.Clure had the mortification to hear that Captain Colliuson only that very morning had sailed for the North, though not without leaving full instructions for his guidance, to proceed to Cape Lisburne, and, in the event of not meeting at that rendezvous, Commander M'Clure was desired to act entirely on his own judgment, “which,” he adds, “was the most satisfactory direction he could have left me."
Having completed his stock of provisions for three years, calculated, however, to suffice for four, he left Wahoa on July the 4th, He was aware that his commanding officer intended to attain to i70° E. longitude, and 30° N. latitude, before shaping his course up Behring Strait. To pursue the same route would only throw him further a-stern ; and having accidentally gleaned the possibility of passing through the Aleutian group, or Fox Islands, he resolved, with a full knowledge of the risk, to accomplish it:
"I made,” he remarks, “a straight course from Wahoa, which I believe is not usual, but I was obliged to attempt something desperate."
Adding, “ perhaps I may be under the influence of some lucky planet," which many more might have thought, had they been equally favoured ; for, being under a great press of canvas, “not a studding-sail was taken in between the latitudes of 17° S. and 69° N.” In fact, when his persevering commander was struggling against baffling winds near the western end of the Aleutian chain, on July 29th, M.Clure was in Kotzebue Sound :
“ It is my intention," says Captain Collinson, Sept. 13th, 1850, “ to proceed again to the north, and remain in the most eligible position for affording assistance to the Investigator, which vessel having been favoured with a surprising passage from the Sandwich Islands, was fallen in with by the Herald on the 31st July off Point Hope, and again on the 5th August by the Plover in lat. 700 44' N., and long. 1590 52' W., when she was standing to the north under a press of sail, and in all probability reached the vicinity of Point Barrow fifteen days previous to the Enterprise, when Captain MClure, having the whole season before him, and animated with the determination so vividly expressed in his letter to Captain Kellett, has most likely taken the in-shore route, and I hope before this period reached Cape Bathurst, &c.”
The Investigator had now gained the edge of the ice about the date prescribed in the Admiralty instructions, and with characteristic energy her commander proposed to push through the first favourable opening leading to the eastward, with a view of getting to the N. of Banks' Land, but avoiding by every possible means being drawn into the bight “to the S.E., near Boothia,” which he naturally concluded would be thoroughly explored by the expedition at that time employed under Captain Austin.
His object being defined, it seemed indifferent whether his ship was forced through the pack or made a more circuitous course to arrive at a position sufficiently north, whence a choice of direction might be taken through one or more of the large channels already known to exist, and thus spread the sphere of exploration in search of the Erebus and Terror to the utmost possibility.
In our present state of uncertainty respecting the whereabouts of the Enterprise* it is quite imaginable that Captain Collinson may have been actuated by a similar idea; and in the event of impediments of that insurmountable description conjectured by some to exist, it is devoutly to be wished that his sense of prudence will induce him to bear up for the American coast, and follow the track of his predecessor.f.
“As for looking for winter quarters,” says M'Clure, “it is a question that would not in the least affect my movements, so thoroughly am I convinced that a great part of the navigable season is lost by being fearful of wintering in the pack; so, wherever my onward course is stopped, there is my winter-quarters.”
Deeply impressed with the risks and uncertainties before him, he exclaims : “ In the event of losing my vessel through the endeavour to carry out to the utmost their Lordships' instructions, the end to be obtained will, I hope, justify the sacrifice. I have reflected on every contingency-my every exertion shall be cheerfully given-the result I leave to the great Disposer of events.”
On August the 2nd, in lat. 72° 1' N., long. 166° 12' W., the Investigator stood into the loose ice, which soon becoming close and heavy, with no pros. pect of easing out, and a failing breeze, she was worked along its edge in soundings of about 25 fathoms, mud; hundreds of walruses were lying thickly huddled together on the ice, " like sheep in a fold.”
For three days, until the 5th, the thick and misty weather cleared a little, and the drifting ship, steadied by a breeze, shaped a course for Wainwright Inlet, with the intention of getting between the pack and the shore; a bold measure, and fraught with danger, since the former was low and shelving, and a sudden change of wind might at any moment drive the latter against it, to the ruin of all hope.
A flat and apparently shingly beach was soon descried 2 miles off, when the weather again became quickly overcast, and obliged those on board to resort to the soundings, which varied from 14 to 73 fathoms; and in this manner, without observing the land, the Investigator rounded Point Barrow.
* Intelligence of the safe return of the Enterprise has since been received.
+ Captain Collinson passed the winter of 1851 in lat. 71° 35' N., and long. 117° 39 W. Sailed again about the end of August, 1852, with the intention of getting to the eastward through Dolphin and Union Strait. VOL. XXIV.
The ice being sufficiently loosc and practicable for sailing, Commander M.Clure steered eastward, direct for Banks' Land; but the gleam of expectation thus encouraged was but too soon dissipated. On the 6th August the mist rolled away, and exposed a heavy and impenetrable pack, extending from S.E. round by the N. to S.W., that effectually barred further progress. It was in lat. 71° 35' N., and long. 155° 12' W.
Not a moment was lost in hauling to the wind ; and though the ice passed through looked close and white, and by no means improved by showers of rain and dusky weather, which prevailed through the night, yet, by carrying a press of sail, and striking unavoidably against rock-like masses of ice, rendering the navigation extremely critical, the ship was extricated when,-on the 7th in the afternoon, an open space of clear water was seen from the “ crow's. nest.”
It was now calm enough to use the boats, and, accompanied with songs and cheers, the crew commenced towing the ship; and after 6 hours' laborious work, they reached perfectly clear water in Smith Bay.
A light air enabled them to get to Point Drew on the 8th, when Mr. Court, accompanied by Mr. Miertsching, landed, to erect a cairn, and secrete a notice of their transactions. Three Esquimaux, who had evidently watched them, approached with some timidity, and after raising their hands three times over their heads, in sign of friendship, and saluting our countrymen by “rubbing of noses," they gave them much useful information; the most gratifying being the important fact of " an open passage along the coast, from three to five miles off;” and “ that the heavy ice very seldom came in or never left the land further than at present."
There were 10 tents, and they held communication with a party who trade at the Russian Fur Company's post. They had never seen a ship, which they called "a fast-moving island." M'Clure remarks: “They appear to be a simple, kind people; very poor, very filthy, and to us looking exceedingly wretched.”
They had seen Pullen's boats pass last year. It was ascertained that many of the Esquimaux seen had frequently gone “ from the Coppermine river to Point Barrow" (?), but “could afford no information of the missing expedition.”
Off Point Pitt the ship took the ground without injury.
“ In crossing Harrison Bay the influence of the Colvile River was perceptible from 12 to 14 miles, the surface of the water being of a dirty mud colour, and scarcely salt.”
August 11.- Abundance of drift-wood was seen on Jones Island ; and one of the Esquimaux had a gun, with “ Barnett, 1840," on the lock.
Much difficulty was encountered in worming a zigzag course among the thick ice-often grounded, and sometimes affected by temporary currents caused by the motion of floes. And on the 14th, after having escaped many dangerous banks, the Investigator ran on a shoal 8 miles N. of Yarborough Inlet. She was obliged to be lightened, and unfortunately upset one of the boats, in which 11 casks of salt meat had been deposited.
Scarcely had they escaped from this accident when the ice set down from the northward, in such quantity as to cut off all advance, and for two days little was done beyond anchoring, weighing, and warping, even for the apparently trilling advantage of gaining two cables' length. Such wearisome work makes M'Clure exclaim, “The navigation along this part of the coast is very dangerous, the sand-banks being low and numerous.”
Lat. 70° 30' N., and long. 148° 4' W.
Still encountering heavy ice, and often retracing their way, on the 21st August they arrived at the Pelly islands, off, and not far from the mouth of the M.Kenzie River. At the distance of 40 miles the soundings did not