Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/276

This page has been validated.

In consequence of Captain Scoresby's expression in the extract from his journal, of "his apprehension, whether the shells possessed sufficient power of penetration for the purpose designed," although, satisfied in my own mind, that they did, I thought the question deserving both of reflection and experiment, as emanating from one of so much experience and discernment; I was, therefore, induced to give them a spear point, and to adapt them to the guns now in use; the result from experiment was a penetration nearly one half deeper, than that of the oblong shells through the same resisting medium.

These shells were made 2 1/2 diameters in length, and from the point nearly one diameter more; they were of solid metal, not only to give strength, but to preserve direction, in their flight: as the fuze was now necessarily next the charge of the gun, great precaution was requisite to prevent accident; this has been effectually done by the head of the fuze being let into a stout wad of cork, with a small perforation, to admit strands of quick match crossing, and to pass through the head of the fuze in the centre. On submitting this alteration in the construction of the shells to Captain Scoresby, the following is an extract from his reply:

"I ventured to differ in opinion with you, as to the power of penetration of the shells and carcasses, which, being oblong in their form, would probably fly in the direction of their shortest axis. You now inform me that you have been adapting a shell to the present harpoon-gun, with a spear point, that will, if required, go through a fish. Penetration was all the former shell wanted; for there can be no doubt, but a shell or carcass introduced into the body of a whale, must be the most efficient means of facilitating the capture ever devised. It would be fully as effectual as the rocket, when it takes effect in the best possible way, and incalculably more manageable."