CAPTAIN COOK'S SECOND VOYAGE, I

"Taking it as probable, that this piece was of absolutely equal size, its depth beneath the water, would have been 1800 feet, and its height about 2000 feet, and from the dimensions just given its entire bulk must have contained 1600 million cubic feet of ice."

Among the icebergs
Among the icebergs.

As they proceeded further south the icebergs increased. The sea was so rough, that the waves climbed these glacial blocks, and fell on the other side in fine impalpable dust. The scene filled the observers with admiration. But this was soon succeeded by terror, upon the reflection that if the vessel struck one of these enormous masses, she must be dashed to pieces. The presence of danger soon, however, produced indifference, and more thought was bestowed upon the sublime beauty, than upon the strife with this terrible element.

Upon the 14th of December, an enormous iceberg, which closed in the horizon, prevented the two vessels from proceeding southwards, and it became absolutely necessary to skirt it.

It did not present an unbroken surface, for hillocks were visible on it, similar to those met on the previous days. Some thought they distinguished land under the ice, even Cook for the moment was deceived, but as the fog lifted the mistake was easily rectified.

Next day the vessels were driven before a strong current. The elder Forster and Wales, the astronomer, embarked in a small boat to ascertain its swiftness. Whilst thus engaged, the fog became so dense, that they completely lost sight of the ship. In this miserable boat, without instruments or provisions, in the midst of the wide ocean, far from any coast, surrounded by ice, their situation was dreadful. They left off rowing, lest they should get farther from the ship. They were losing all hope when the sound of a distant bell fell upon their ears. They rowed swiftly in the direction of the sound. The Adventure replied to their shouts and picked them up after several hours of terrible suspense.

The generally received opinion was, that the ice floats collected in the bays or mouths of rivers. The explorers, therefore, imagined themselves near land, which would prove to be situated in the south behind the vast iceberg.

They were thirty leagues to the west of it, before they found an opening in the ice which might lead to the south. The captain then determined to steer an equal distance to the east. Should he not find land, he at least hoped to double the iceberg, and penetrate in advance of it to the pole, and thereby settle the doubts of all the physicists.

But although it was the middle of summer in this part of the world, the cold became daily more intense. The sailors complained of it, and symptoms of scurvy appeared on board.

Warmer clothes were distributed, and recourse was had to the remedies usual in such cases, malt and lemon-juice, which soon overcame the malady, and enabled the crews to bear the severity of the temperature.

On the 29th of December, Cook ascertained positively that the iceberg was joined to no land. He therefore decided to proceed eastward as far as the parallel of Cape Circumcision, that is, if no obstacle prevented him.

He had scarcely put this resolve into execution when the wind became so violent, and the sea so rough, that navigation, in the midst of floating ice, which crashed with a fearful noise, became most perilous.

The danger increased, when a field of ice extending beyond the range of vision was seen to the north. There seemed every prospect of the ships being imprisoned for many weeks, "hemmed in," to use the expression of whalers, if indeed they did not run the risk of being crushed at once.

Cook neither tried to run to the west or east, he steered straight for the south. He was now in the latitude attributed to Cape Circumcision, and seventy leagues south of the position assigned to it. Hence he concluded that if land existed as stated by Bouvet (which is now known to be a fact) it could only be an inconsiderable island, and not a large continent.

The captain had no further reason for remaining in these latitudes. In 67° 15' southern latitude a new ice barrier, running from east to west closed the passage for him, and he could find no opening in it. Prudence enjoined his remaining no longer in this region, for two-thirds of the summer were already passed. He therefore determined to seek, with no further delay, the land recently discovered by the French.

On the 1st of February, 1773, the vessels were in 48° 30' south latitude, and 38° 7' west longitude, very nearly the parallel attributed to St. Maurice Island.

After a fruitless cruise, productive of no results, they were forced to conclude, that if there really were land in these latitudes it could only be a small island, otherwise it could not have escaped their search.