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Pocket as she sat reading her book of dignities
after prescribing Bed as a sovereign remedy for
baby, I thoughtWellNo, I wouldn't.


IN the year of our Lord eight hundred and
sixty, or just one thousand years ago, it is
recorded that Iceland was visited and colonised
by the old Norwegian Vikings, and although
we are led to understand that these enterprising
and systematic explorers had been preceded
by the Irish in the discovery of the
island, we may still consider that to them and
to that time are due the honour of first settling
within the arctic lands of the earth.

The northern main land of Norway and the
islands adjacent within the arctic circle were
soon after discovered, and were then, as they
are now, inhabited by Laplanders, a people
differing but little from the Esquimaux (or
Eskimos as they are now sometimes written).
The discovery and occupation of Greenland
rapidly succeeded that of Iceland, and then
followed the first recorded visit of civilised
men to the main land of America. These early
voyagers reached the new continent at a point
far to the south of that ideal line marked in the
maps as the arctic circle, and at a time long
enough before the birth of Columbus, to admit
of the whole affair being lost sight of in Europe,
if, indeed, it ever entered into general knowledge
in countries south of Scandinavia.

As is the case with all very difficult and
dangerous undertakings, there have never been
wanting, from the earliest times till now, a
constant succession of volunteers whose great aim
was to penetrate as far as possible beyond the
limits within which navigation was comparatively
easy. As navigation improved, these
limits, of course, extended, and from time to
time important additions were made to our
knowledge of the geography of the ice-bound
lands and dangerous waters of the arctic seas.
At length, it became a mania amongst navigators
to determine whether or no there existed a
north-west passage to India. In other words, whether
there was anywhere a continuous land
communication between the old and new worlds.

It cannot be said that this question was
fairly set at rest till the ships of Sir John
Franklin, starting from Europe by Davis'
Straits and Baffin's Bay, actually sailed through
the islands of the arctic archipelago, that
intervene between the northern lands of America
and the north pole, into waters previously
reached from the Pacific side. Unfortunately,
not one living soul has come back to inform
us of this result, which has only been
discovered by the successive efforts of other
explorers, of whom Sir L. McClintoch is the
latest. He, in fact, succeeded in doing the
same thing, discovering the remains of Sir
John Franklin's party, and returning in safety
to tell us of the result. Previous to McClintoch's
return, but after Sir John Franklin's ships
had completed their passage from Atlantic to
Pacific waters, Captain, afterwards Sir Robert
McClure, passed through a strait connecting
the two oceans, and was thus the successful
claimant of the Parliamentary reward that had
been offered for the discovery of a
north-western passage.

Within the arctic circle there is a considerable
extent of land and numerous channels of
water which may be traversed during a part of
almost every year, subject, indeed, to the varieties
of season and the time at which the
winter ice breaks up. Whole chapters of physical
geography and natural history, and many
important and interesting facts concerning the
human family, are connected with and arise out
of the discoveries there made, while the antarctic
circlethe corresponding region round
the south pole of the earthis singularly barren
of facts and interest.

The map of the south polar regions, indeed,
contains scarcely more than a few dotted and
detached lines showing where hardy and
venturous navigators have been stopped in their
progress by hopeless barriers of ice, and it bears
but few marks of a continued and successful
search. Any important discovery in that part
of the world seems almost impossible, for even
though it may be determined that land exists, its
boundaries can hardly be traced, owing to vast
and irregular barriers of ice that projects
beyond it and renders it inacessible. There is,
however, one exception to the usual outer
barrier in " South victoria" land, where a deep
inlet was entered by Captain Sir John Ross in
1841, and he was enabled to advance up it
nearly eight hundred miles, or almost to the
eightieth parallel of south latitude, thus
arriving within a couple of hundred miles of the
nearest distance hitherto reached by explorers
towards the opposite or northern pole. Elsewhere,
however, the ice is almost everywhere
not only compact, but forms so complete a
barrier as to shut out all access at latitudes
corresponding to those which, in Europe, possess
inhabited towns and people in a high state of
civilisation. Thus, in South Georgia, an island
whose position in latitude about corresponds
with that of the Isle of Man and the adjacent
north coast of Ireland, Captain Cook describes
the head of the bay he visited as well as two
places on each side to have been "terminated
by perpendicular ice cliffs of considerable height,
pieces of which were continually breaking off
and floating out to sea. A great fall happened
while we were in the bay which made a noise
like a cannon. The wild rocks raised their
lofty summits till they were lost in the clouds,
and the valleys lay covered with everlasting
snow; not a tree was to be seen, nor a shrub
even big enough to make a toothpick."

The Southern Ocean has generally been found
navigable with only occasional interruptions
from ice to about sixty-five degrees south
latitude (very near the antarctic circle), but
though not yet traced throughout, continuous
and impassable ice seems to extend in an almost
unbroken line at this latitude, in a position