Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/255

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immediately join the harpoon, the danger of some part, particularly the ring breaking by the impetus of the discharge is always very great. Before I could succeed in my plan of gaining communication with vessels wrecked on a lee shore by a shot with a line attached to it, I failed in every instance, until I had discovered some material to connect the rope to the ball, that would withstand the shock of the discharge. I therefore speak on this point with the certainty of experience.

The following representation gives the gun, loaded with the harpoon, as on the point of being discharged.

Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821, page 201.png

It is evident, that so much of an instrument like the harpoon of considerable weight[1], left protruding from the muzzle of the gun, must confine the point blank range to a very few yards indeed: the parabola, or curve, must take place almost at the very moment of discharge. To counteract this, the gun must, like a mortar, be fired at a great elevation: but the requisite geometrical means of ascertaining the due elevation cannot here be practised; and the aim must, consequently, always be uncertain. I have already noticed the very tardy flight of a body thus discharged, with a force inadequate to its weight; and, when to this want of velocity is added a circuitous direction, the fish may have dived from terror at the flash or re-

  1. Those which were sent me from Hull, and procured for the purpose of making experiments, exceeded seven pounds in weight, and were two feet and a half in length.