Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/89

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63
Account of the Island of Deception.

six and seven thousand feet, and might readily be mistaken for a mighty iceberg, but for a few patches where the sides—too perpendicular to retain the snow with which the island is elsewhere covered—allow the blackness of the rock to become more conspicuous, from the contrast with the dazzling whiteness of the surrounding scenery. Icebergs, in great numbers, were strewed in every direction around; no fewer than eighty-one were counted at one time. A heavy tide rip or race was running; and the height of the land—to which we had approached much more closely than we should otherwise have ventured, in consequence of the fog—becalmed the sails, which flapped uselessly against the masts, at the same time that the ship was driven to and fro at the mercy of the current.

We were released from this unpleasant dilemma by a strong gale that arose without any sort of warning; but as it was accompanied by a thick fog, the most unwearied vigilance and most active measures were necessary to avoid running foul of the numerous masses of ice by which we were conscious of being surrounded.

In the course of the following afternoon, a partial clearing of the fog showed us more land extending along the S.E. horizon. Like Smith's Island it was only distinguishable from the numerous icebergs by which it was surrounded by the towering height of its mountains, and by the black fringe of rocks that skirted the water-line. On the next morning it was beautifully clear, and so much land was visible, that, in the absence of accurate hydrographical information, we were at a loss to decide on our situation, until the peaks of Smith's Island were recognized in the N.W. quarter at the distance of sixty-five miles. At this time the vessel was surrounded by vast multitudes of whales, penguins, and birds of the petrel tribe, who appeared, by their sportive gambols, fully aware of the propriety of making the best use of the few moments of fine weather allotted them by the niggard season of this desolate region.

This interval of fine weather admitted of the ship's place being determined; and in the afternoon, being abreast of a projecting headland, Captain Foster and myself left the ship with the view of effecting a landing, and taking possession of what we were aware was a new discovery.

On reaching the cape the surf was found so violent that we could only effect our purpose by entering one of the numerous inlets that presented themselves, and even then it was a task by no means easy,—the land being composed of a collection of needle-like pinnacles of sienite, covered with snow, and only accessible by watching an opportunity of jumping from the boat during the recession of a wave. A copper cylinder was deposited at the