After midnight on the 27th the wind began to moderate, and, by degrees, also drew more to the southward than before. At daylight, therefore, we found ourselves seven or eight miles from the land; but no ice was in sight, except the “sludge,” of honey-like consistence, with which almost the whole sea was covered. A strong blink, extending along the eastern horizon, pointed out the position of the main body of ice, which was farther distant from the eastern shore of the inlet than I ever saw it. Being assisted by a fine working breeze, which, at the same time, prevented the formation of any more ice to obstruct us, we made considerable progress along the land, and at noon were nearly abreast of Jackson Inlet, which we now saw to be considerably larger than our distant view of it on the former voyage had led us to suppose. A few more tacks brought us to the entrance of Port Bowen, which, for two or three days past, I had determined to make our wintering-place, if, as there was but little reason to expect, we should be so fortunate as to push the ships thus far. Beating up, therefore, to Port Bowen, we found it filled with “old” and “hummocky” ice, attached to the shores on both sides, as low down as about three-quarters of a mile below Stony Island. Here we made fast in sixty-two fathoms water, running our hawsers far in upon the ice, in case of its breaking off at the margin.
Winter Arrangements.—Improvements in Warming and Ventilating the Ships.—Masquerades adopted as an Amusement to the Men.—Establishment of Schools.—Astronomical Observations.—Meteorological Phenomena.
Oct.—Our present winter arrangements so closely resembled, in general, those before adopted, that a fresh description of them would prove little more than a repetition of that already contained in the narratives of our former voyages.
To those who read, as well as to those who describe, the account of a winter passed in these regions can no longer be expected to afford the interest of novelty it once possessed; more especially in a station already delineated with tolerable geographical precision on our maps, and thus, as it were, brought near to our firesides at home. Independently, indeed, of this circumstance, it is hard to conceive any one thing more like another than two winters passed in the higher latitudes of the Polar Regions, except when variety happens to be afforded by intercourse with some other branch of “the whole family of man.” Winter after winter, nature here assumes an aspect so much alike, that cursory observation can scarcely detect a single feature of variety. The winter of more temperate climates, and even in some of no slight severity, is occasionally diversified by a thaw, which at once gives variety and comparative cheerfulness to the prospect. But here, when once the earth is covered, all is dreary, monotonous whiteness; not merely for days or weeks, but for more