POLAR EXPEDITIONS

The Peacock and Flying-Fish, either because they had sustained damages or because of the dangers from the roughness of the sea and floating ice, had steered in a northerly direction from the 24th January to the 5th February, The Vincennes and Porpoise alone continued the arduous voyage as far as E. long. 97°, having land in sight for two or three miles, which they approached whenever the ice allowed them to do so.

"On the 29th of January," says Wilkes, in his report to the National Institution of Washington, "we entered what I have called Piners Bay, the only place where we could have landed on the naked rocks. We were driven out of it by one of the sudden gales usual in those seas. We got soundings in thirty fathoms. The gale lasted thirty-six hours, and after many narrow escapes, I found myself some sixty miles W. to leeward of this bay. It now became probable that this land which we had discovered was of great extent, and I deemed it of more importance to follow its trend than to return to Piners Bay to land, not doubting I should have an opportunity of landing on some portion of it still more accessible; this, however, I was disappointed in, the icy barrier preventing our approach, and rendering it impossible to effect.

"Great quantities of ice, covered with mud, rock, and stone, presented themselves at the edge of the barrier, in close proximity of the land; from these our specimens were obtained, and were quite as numerous as could have been gathered from the rocks themselves. The land, covered with snow, was distinctly seen in many places, and between them such appearances as to leave little or no doubt in my mind of it being a continuous line of coast, and deserving the name bestowed upon it of theAntarctic Continent, lying as it does under that circle. Many phenomena were observed here, and observations made, which will be found under their appropriate head in the sequel.

"On reaching 97° east, we found the ice trending to the northward and continuing to follow it close, we reached to within a few miles of the position where Cook was stopped by the barrier in 1773."

Piners Bay, where Wilkes landed, is situated in E. long. 140° (reckoning from Paris), that is to say it is identical with the place visited by D'Urville on the 21st January. On the 30th January the Porpoise had come in sight of D'Urville's two vessels, and approached to within speaking distance of them, but they put on all sail and appeared anxious to avoid any communication.

On his arrival at Sydney, Wilkes found the Peacock in a state of repair and with that vessel he visited New Zealand, Tonga Tabou, and the Fiji Islands, where two of the junior officers of the expedition were massacred by the natives. The Friendly, Navigator, and Sandwich Islands, Admiralty Straits, Puget Sound, Vancouver's Island, the Ladrones, Manilla, Sooloo, Singapore, the Sunda Islands, St. Helena, and Rio de Janeiro, were the halting places on the return voyage, which terminated on the 9th June, 1842, at New York, the explorers having been absent three years and ten months altogether.

The results to every branch of science were considerable, and the young republic of the United States was to be congratulated on a début so triumphant in the career of discovery. In spite, however, of the interest attaching to the account of this expedition, and to the special treatises by Dana, Gould, Pickering, Gray, Cassin, and Brackenbridge, we are obliged to refrain from dwelling on the work done in countries already known. The success of these publications beyond the Atlantic was, as might be expected in a country boasting of so few explorers, immense.

Whilst Wilkes was engaged in his explorations, i.e. in 1839, Balleny, captain of the Elizabeth Scott, was adding his quota to the survey of the Antarctic regions. Starting from Campbell Island, on the south of New Zealand, he arrived on the 7th February in S. lat. 67° 7', and W. long. 164° 25', reckoning from the Paris meridian. Then bearing west and noting many indications of the neighbourhood of land, he discovered two days later a black band in the south-west which, at six o'clock in the evening, he ascertained beyond a doubt to be land. This land turned out to be three islands of considerable size, and Balleny gave them his own name. As may be imagined the captain tried to land, but a barrier of ice prevented his doing so. All he could manage was the determination of the position of the central isle, which he fixed at S. lat. 66° 44' and W. long. 162° 25'.

On the 14th February a lofty land, covered with snow, was sighted in the W.S.W. The next day there were but ten miles between the vessel and the land. It was approached as nearly as possible, and then a boat was put off, but a beach of only three or four feet wide with vertical and inaccessible cliffs rising beyond it rendered landing impossible, and only by getting wet up to their waists were the sailors able to obtain a few specimens of the lava characteristic of this volcanic district.