Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/234

This page has been validated.

of the fingers of the hand widely distended, extending from the great mass of western ice, to a distance of perhaps from fifty to a hundred miles. Should a ship unfortunately go with a fair wind into one of these bights, the difficulty of getting out again must be obvious, and it is from this consideration that the commanders of whale ships invariably keep beating to windward, particularly in thick weather; the better to be enabled in cases of entanglement, to avail themselves of a leading wind to ensure their return to safety. I was here struck with the singular character and appearance of the ice; the heavy rains and the dense fogs, that had so long prevailed, had entirely dissolved the snow from its surface, and it was apparent that the lashings of the sea had made considerable ravages upon it. Its opaqueness intimated that it had received its origin from sea water, and in those recesses where shadows were created, were tints, whose richness not only emulated but excelled the sapphire in lustre. The effect of the waves upon the elevated pieces, explained the manner in which the beautiful and graceful forms assumed by the ice were modelled; and proved that it was the continual action of the water, which produced that evenness of surface, and formed those elegant tablets and other figures, so distinguished for correctness of proportion; it was also observable, that it was to the washing of the sea, the height of which limited the length of the stems of ice, that their tasteful forms were to be ascribed.