Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/66

This page has been validated.
40
VOYAGE TO GREENLAND.

impede our progress. The ship was equally prepared for the combat, and its skilful commander placed himself at the mast head, to observe the movements of the enemy, and to take the best position: pieces of ice of such immense magnitude and weight, as, it might be imagined, must overwhelm us, often opposed our progress: to meet these, was displayed nautical skill, interesting beyond description; such as when advancing, under a pressure of sail, promptly bracing back the yards in an instant to impede the ship's way; then, at the moment of meeting, filling the sails, and driving the obstinate foe aside. Numbers of the finest evolutions were made during the day; we turned with celerity upon the flanks of some, upon the rear of others, and on many occasions manœuvered in the perfect figure of 8, to defeat not only the columns, but the reserves that threatened to cut off our retreat, and keep us captive in a prison of ice, if not to effect our destruction. By the uncommon perseverance of Captain Scoresby, who remained thirteen hours in the crow's nest, the thermometer being twelve degrees below the freezing point, we were at eleven o'clock at night, once again in the open sea, to explore and pursue some more favourable situation for fishing; for which purpose we sailed to the north-west. At one period of the day, when the wind had ceased, and the difficulties were less formidable, I requested a boat to examine some bodies of ice at no great distance from us. On approaching them, nothing could exceed their endless