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We trust soon to have to congratulate our author on the appearance of other treatises from his pen. At present all the knowledge we have of the Ichthyology of Spitsbergen is contained in Sir James Ross' Appendix to Parry's 'Fourth Voyage,' wherein four species only of fishes are enumerated. The lower forms of life, also, require much more attention than they have as yet, judging from published records, received. No doubt we shall have our wishes gratified. Meantime we tender our warmest thanks to Mr. Malmgren, for the careful papers we have here been noticing, which are exactly of the kind that the present state of Zoological Science needs respecting the Fauna of every country from one Pole to the other.
XVIII.-Hall's ESQUIMAUX. LIFE WITH THE ESQUIMAUX: the Narrative of Capt. C. F. Hall, of
the whaling-barque George Henry,' from the 29th May, 1860, to the 13th Sept. 1862. Two vols. 8vo. London, Sampson
Low, & Co. 1864. THERE is perhaps no race of men who are more curious in their habits, and less affected, as yet, by the influence of civilization, than the Esquimaux. Capt. Sherard Osborn has recently recalled the attention of the public to the interesting problems which, after all that has been accomplished, are still unsolved, and might perhaps be determined by another Arctic expedition ; but even without this stimulus, Capt. Hall's book would certainly have been read with much interest.
The author is an American gentleman, living at Cincinnati, and of a decidedly enthusiastic and religious turn of mind. Strongly impressed with the belief that some, at least, of Franklin's unfortunate companions might perhaps be still alive, “ it seemed to me,” he says, " as if I had been called, if I may so speak, to try and do the “ work. My heart felt sore at the thought of so great a mystery in “ connection with any of our fellow-creatures, especially akin to “ ourselves, yet remaining unsolved. Why could not their true fate “ be ascertained ? Why should not attempts be made, again and “ again, until the whole facts were properly known ?”
Capt. Hall's idea was that the Esquimaux must be perfectly well aware of the fate which had befallen the remnant of Franklin's expedition, and the present whereabouts of the survivors, should any such exist. He proposed, therefore, to make friends with the Esquimaux, to live among them, and to share their hardships and dangers, hoping, in this manner, to obtain the wished for information. In this, the main object of his voyage, he has, unfortunately, been unsuccessful; but he has accumulated a number of interesting facts, and has produced a work which, although far from faultless, will be read with pleasure, and is deserving of warm commendation. The manners and customs of the Esquimaux, and their extraordinary peculiarities, have already been well described by previous travellers in the Arctic regions; but there are few who have so completely identified themselves with this remarkable people, and have enjoyed such favourable opportunities of making friends with them, as appears to have been the case with Capt. Hall.
It is impossible not to admire the determination and energy of a man who could conceive and carry out such a scheme. Certainly the dangers of Arctic travel are not in reality so great as they are generally supposed to be. After the great storm of 1830, a thousand shipwrecked sailors bad to make their way over the ice, from Baffin's Bay to the Danish settlement, a distance of 600 miles, and yet they all arrived safely at their destination, except two, who died from drinking. Still the hardships and discomforts are very great, though Capt. Hall, with the true spirit of a traveller, makes light of them, and dwells rather on the bright side of affairs. “Recording," he says,“ my own experience of igloo life at this time, I may here say " that, having then spent twenty nights in a snow-house, I enjoyed “it exceedingly. Now, as I look back at the past, I find no reason “to utter anything different. I was as happy as circumstances “ permitted, even though with Innuits only for my companions. “ Life has charms everywhere, and I must confess that Innuit life “possesses those charms, to a great degree, for me."
The foundation, if we may so say, of life in the far north, appears to consist, on the one hand of seaweed, and on the other of moss. The seaweed supports an infinite number of minute crustacea and mollusca, which in their turn afford abundant nourishment to fish, which again are preyed upon by seals. The fish, the seals, and the walrus, supply the principal part of their nourishment to the Esquimaux. On land, the most important vegetables appear to be the reindeer moss, and a small species of Andromeda ; the latter of which serves as bedding, while the former supports numerous herds of reindeer, the prey of the wolves, the bears, and the Esquimaux. Thus both series culminate in the Esquimaux ; but although this voracious people make up for the almost entire absence of vegetable food by devouring nearly everything animal that comes in their way, still it is mainly to the seal that they owe the possibility of existence. They have, in fact, been described “as singular “composite beings, a link between Saxons and seals, hybrids, putting “ the seals' bodies into their own, and then encasing their skins in “ the seals'; thus walking to and fro, a compound formation. A “ transverse section would discover them to be stratified, like a roly“ poly pudding, only, instead of jam and paste, if their layers were “ noted on a perpendicular scale, they would range after this fashion, “ first of all seal, then biped, seal in the centre.”
Every part of the seal is eaten by the Esquimaux. Nothing comes amiss to them. We will spare our readers any description of an Esquimaux dinner. In this respect Capt. Hall appears to have become entirely one of themselves. He describes, almost usque ad nauseam, the things which he ate, and ate even with pleasure. “ To say that I enjoyed this food,” he tells us, “would only be to “ repeat what I have before said, though no doubt many will feel “surprised at my being able to eat, as I so frequently did, raw “meat " and other things, the enumeration of which we will avoid. It is hardly necessary to state that the Esquimaux eat most of their food in a raw state ; from this practice, indeed, their name is derived-Ushke in the Chippeway language meaning raw, and Umwau, he eats. One great reason for this, no doubt, consists in the scarcity of fuel. In fact, the Esquimaux have no fires, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, though each woman has a little lamp of lapis ollaris, in which she burns seal-oil with a wick of moss, and which she uses sometimes for cooking, but mainly to dry clothes and to melt the snow in order to obtain water. In fact, the Esquimaux in the north, like the Fuegian in the south, has but little idea of warming himself at a fire. In winter, the small snow igloo, or hut, in which he lives, is so close that the difficulty is to keep it cool, rather than to warm it. If the temperature is allowed to rise too high, the hut melts away; and the most trying time to the Esquimaux is in the spring, when it is still too cold for tents, and yet when the snow huts are giving way before the increasing power of the sun. Of all the remarkable points connected with the Esquimaux, the little use which they make of fire, and, surrounded as they are with water in a solid form, the difficulty which they experience in obtaining enough to drink, are perhaps the most striking. Again, the analogies between the chemical actions which
take place in the human body, and the ordinary processes of combustion are remarkably brought out by the above-mentioned facts. The same substance, namely, the oil of the seal, serves both as food and as fuel : it raises the temperature of the Esquimaux, and enables him to maintain an internal warmth, perhaps even greater than that of an ordinary Englishman, while the thermometer stands far below zero; and it does this, whether burnt in the lamp as fuel, or in the Esquimaux as food.
Capt. Hall gives some interesting particulars as to the habits of Arctic animals. The seal, for instance, forms for itself an igloo, in which it brings forth its young, and which has apparently served as a model for those used by the Esquimaux. This happens about the 1st of April. The prospective mother works her way upwards through the ice, on the surface of which she scoops out a semicircular excavation in the snow, scraping it away with her forefeet, and carrying it down beneath the thick ice. None but very sharp scented animals, such as the polar bear, the fox, and the seal dog, can find these igloos. “By the time the sun melts off the covering “snow, exposing and destroying the dome of the igloo, the young “ seal is ready to take care of itself.” Although a popular writer has recently assured us that the seal can remain for a whole winter below the water, we need hardly remind our readers that this is not the case. The seal, like the whale, and all other mammalia, must come up to the surface from time to time for the purpose of respiration. Each seal, therefore, has at least one breathing hole in the ice. When an Esquimaux, by the aid of his dog, has found one of these breathing holes, he thrusts his spear down through the hard snow to ascertain the exact locality of the hole," which is not more than one “ or two inches in diameter. After, perhaps, a dozen attempts, he “ finally strikes the hole. Now, he carefully withdraws his spear, and “ marks with his eye the hole which leads down through perhaps 18 " to 24 inches depth of snow. When now he hears the seal, he raises “ his spear, and strikes unerringly through the snow to the seal's head. “ The animal at once dives and runs out to the full length of the line, “ one end of which is fast in the hand of the sealer. He proceeds to “ cut away the deep snow, and to chisel the ice, so as to enlarge the “ top of the seal hole, from which he soon draws forth his prize." This mode of sealing requires great patience, and the Esquimaux has sometimes to wait two or three days and nights, in constant expectation, before he secures his prey.
The Innuits or Esquimaux have a great respect for the polar bear, and tell many interesting anecdotes of its sagacity. “In August,” they say, “every fine day, the walrus makes its way to the shore, draws his “ huge body up on the rocks, and basks in the sun. If this happens “ near the base of a cliff, the ever watchful bear takes advantage of “ the circumstance to attack this formidable game in this way. The “ bear mounts the cliff, and throws down upon the animal's head a “ large rock, calculating the distance and the curve with astonishing “ accuracy, and thus crushing the thick, bullet proof skull. If the “ walrus is not instantly killed-simply stunned,--the bear rushes “ down to it, seizes the rock, and hammers away at the head till the “skull is broken. A fat feast follows. Unless the bear is very " hungry, it eats only the blubber of the walrus, seal, and whale."
Capt. Hall gives an excellent figure of a large bear, sitting on its haunches, and having in its fore-paws a great mass of rock which it is in the act of throwing down upon the head of an unsuspicious walrus. This will, no doubt, prove conclusive to many of his readers, and remove any doubts which they might otherwise have felt about the story. Moreover, Dr. Rae heard a very similar account from an Esquimaux in whom he had good reason to feel great confidence, and who declared that he had actually seen a bear throw a mass of ice on to the head of a walrus. We confess that we are hardly prepared to give the bear credit for so much sagacity, though we cannot altogether reject a statement which appears to rest on good authority.
The following story is more satisfactory :-Capt. Hall had killed a young bear, and thought that the Esquimaux would rejoice in his success. He soon discovered this to be a mistaken idea. They always, he found, avoided killing the young of a bear, until the old one was dead, because the death of the offspring “made the mother a hun“ dred-fold more terrible than she would otherwise be.” They feared, therefore, that the old bear would return and attack them in the night, in order to avoid which they prudently took to flight
“ After making a distance of some ten miles from where the bear * was killed, and as we were making good progress homeward directly “ down the bay, all at once the dogs were turned by the driver "sharply to the left, nearly, but not quite, half round, and directed " towards the south termination of Pugh Island, where we made our “ eighteenth encampment. Before we retired for the night, the "sledge was stuck up on end in an ice crack, and the guns and