Thomas Smith.

The wonders of nature and art: or, A concise account of whatever ..., Volume 3 online

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fhcther relating to iu Animil, Vegetable, and Mineral
Productions, or to the MinuftSctiircs, Buildings, and
\ Inventions of its Inhabitants,

npilcdfrom Historical and Geographical Works of established
Velebriti/, andillustrated with Ike Discoveries qf modern TrawUcrs,

Bxf the Rev. THOMAS SMITH,
borof the universal atlas, sacreu mirb.or, &c. &c^

** Kcview these nmnerons scenes, at once survey
Nature's extended face, then Scq>tics say.
In this wide field of wonders, canyou find
Ko art discover'd, and no end design'd ?"





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MAS 5 tS41


— ^rintCT) Brid^w^ell U<^p»tal, Bridge Street.

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. >^ ,Pf EUROPE.

A > ^ ^^ ■


OF GREENLAND, '. *. . . . . : , 1

AnimaU, ; . ; • .*^ • 4 •- . . . . 2

Vegetables,' Mincrah, 8^p. ••••.. 10
Fisheries, Trade, 9fc. . . . • • ^ . . 11



Zakes, Springs, Catarac^$, Qlimat^, Phenomena, S^c,

Minerals,. Fossils, ^c. .... . ; .28

Animals, 38

Buildings, , ^ ......... 44


.- •. ^

OF POLAND, ...♦..,.. 46

Minerals, Fossils, SfCf , • , . , . • ib.

Animals, ......,,,.. 57

Buildings, , . v , . 59

Miscellaneous Curiosities, . , v, , • . 62

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EMPIRE, • . 64

Laket, Springs, MomOavm, ifc 66

Minerals, Fossils, Sfc 71

Vegetables, 78

Animals, « ^ • . • 79

Buildings, • • « « . 91

Qmals, Beads, ft-c. ,•<«•••« 10^

Amiquities, • • • . IIQ

miscellaneous Curiositiss, .••••• U7
Arts, Manufactures, Commerce, Sfc. . . .126


OF TURKEY IN EVtiOTi:, . • . . If^

Caverns^ Springs, Volcanic Islands, Remarkable

Tides, Sfc. . . * ib.

Minerals, Fossils, ^i:* • •'♦ . . ; , KJIZ
Vegetables, •«..•• r «• • 170 ,
Animals, ••••.•».••»• 176

. . S04


nd Discaperies qfthe Ansicnt IkhaMtavts
in Europe •••••«. 24S ,

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X HE east side of Greenland, which lies oppo-
site to Iceland, is rendered inaccessible by moun-
tains of ice, which rise from the sea to an asto-
nishing height ; and the west side toward Davis's
Straits is litile more than a confused heap of rocks,
whose summits are perpetually enveloped with a
mantle of snow : but the southern part is muqh
better known, and as far as the Danish and Nor-
wegian colonies have penetrated, the climate is
temperate. During the summer season, which,
continues from the end of May to the middle of
September, the weather is warm and comfortable;
ihough even •at this time the inhabitants are often
alarmed by violent storms ^ and in calm weather^,
the coasts are infested with disagreeable i*og$.
Near the shore, and in the bays and inlelff^ the
low l^^ds are crowned with beautitul verdar%^;
but beyond the sixty-eighth degree of north lati-
tude, the cold 'is p roil ig ion sly intense j and tt;-
wards the end of August all the coast is coveted
with ice, and remains in that state tjll tiie cnsuiug


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summer. Greenlatid is seldom visited with thun«
der and lightning ; but the aurora borealis is very
frequent and bright. At the time of new or fuU
knoon, the tide rises and fails upon the coast about
eighteen feet ; and it is worthy of I'emark, -that
the springs and fountains on sboce^ rise and ^
with the flux and reflux of the ocean.


THE only domestic animals -found in Green-
land are dogs which frequently snarl and how!,
but ^re never heard to bark : they are timorouf,
and consequently unfit for the chace, yet if hot
tamed when young they become remarkably wild
and mischievous. The Greenlanders use diese
creatures to draw their sledges, yoking four,
siXy and sometimes eight to a sledge, loaden with
live or six large seals ; and it is said that they often
travel sixty miles in a winter's day upon the ice.

The white bears of Greenland differ from those
of other countries, in having the head and neck of
ft more lengthened form, aiid the body longer in
proportion to its bulk. The hair of these animals
is !ong,'^and soflt as wool; the ears and eyes are
small, but the teeth are large, and the limbs re-
markably long. They are not only seen at land, ,
but often on ice-floats, several leagues at sea.
They ere sometimes transported in this manner to-
:ftKe coa!(t of Iceland; and it sometimes happeps^ !
that when a Greenlander and his wife are paddling
out at sea, a white bear unexpectedly g^t< ^
into their boat, and, like a passenger, sufbrs.him^*- r
•elf to be rowed to shore. \

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It appears, however, that the Greenland bear
K an animal of extracwdinary fierceness, and, if
aUacked, will make- astomshtog extttioss t»
avenge himself mi' his assailant. Barents had the
mofit horrid proofs of their ferocky at Nora Zem-
blg^ where they attacked and devoured sany of
his seamen,, even in the sigiit of their comrades.
And an instance. stiH more remarkable h thui
narcated by the Rev. Mr. Bingley, in hk Animal
Biography « " Not many years, ago,, tlje crew of
a boat belonging te a ship in the whale-fishery,
shot at a beaa: at a littk distance, ai^i wounded k.
The animal immediat^^ siel up the roost dreadiul
how];^ and ran along the ice toward» the boat.
Bc^re be seachied it ^ second shot wa» ftred, and
hit hkn« TTbis served but to inctcMe bis fury.
He presently swam ie tiie: boat, and> in atteiimt«v
ing to get on boards reached one <ȣ his ibre-ieet
upon the giunnel; la^t one ef the cre^, having a
h^Utchet in his hanJ« cut it off. The animal still,
however, continued to swim atfter thcan, t^ they
arrived at ibe ship t and sevecad shots w^e fired <
at bmj, which ahe took effect : but on reaching
the ship, he immediately ascended the deck ; and
the crew having fled ii)to the sbroudis, be was pur-
suing Uiem thither, when a sfaet ^m one of uiem
laid him dead upon the deck.'^

During the summer these creatures reside chiefty
on the ice islands, frequently-swimming from one
ttraoother; but at the approach g£ winter they
retire, and bed themselves deep beneath the snow,
where they pass the bng Arctic pight in mji/i^p oh
terpidMy . Great numbers of them, howe^i aije
annually driven from their favorite retreats* by
impjstuous winds; or cutrents, and perish in the

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These bears produce one or two cubs at a
tune; and their maternal affection is so strong that
they will rather die than desert their young in the
hour of danger. We shall relate one instance
which seems peculiarly worthy of attention.
While a frigate, which was sent out some years
ago to make discoveries towards the north pole,
was locked in the ice, a man at the mast-head
gave notice, that tliree bears were advancing
over the frozen ocean, and directing their course
directly toward the vessel; having, probably,
been invited by the scent of some blubber of a
sea-horse^ which was burning on the ice at the
lime of their approach. The animals, which
proved to be a she-bear and two large cubs, ran
eagerly to the fire and drew out the flesh that re*
mained unconsumed. The mariners then threw
some other lumps of flesh upOn the ice, which the
old bear fetched away singly, and, dividing each
lump, ^ve a share to each of her cubs ; but as
she was Fetching away the last piece she received
a wound from a musket-ball, and her young ones
were both shot dead. The scene now became
truly affecting, and the tender concern expressed
by the poor animal in the last moments of her ex*
piring cubs, might have drawn tears of pity from
any but unfeeling minds. Though desperately
wounded, and scarcely able to crawl to the place
where the victims lay, she carried the lump of
^esh thither, divided it between them, and laid -
her paws first upon one, and then upon the other,
anxiously endeavouring to raise them up. When
she found that she could neither stir them nor-'
entice tbem to eat, she went off to some distance, .
looked back, and mounted most piteously^ but
this not availing, she returned, and with signs of

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inexpressible affection walked round them, paw-
ing them and moaning. At length, perceiving
them to be cold and Ikeless, she raised her head
towards the ship and uttered a growl of despair.
This was immediately returned by a discharge of
musqiietry, and the affectionate animal, havmg
fallen between her cubs, expired in the act of
licking their wounds.

The usual food of these quadrupeds consists of
seals, fish, and the carcases of whales ; but when
on land they prey on deer, hares, young birds,
and other animals ; and they are also said to eat
various kinds of berries. When allured by the
scent of the flesh of seals, they assemble in large
droves, and sometimes attempt to break into the
habitations of the Greenlanders ; but they are
easily repulsed by the smoke of burnt feathers.

Of their astonishing ss^ac^ty in searching for
prey, the following story is related. " The white
bears in Greenland, notwithstanding thei coldness
of the clhnate, have an exquisite sense of smell-
ing, and sometimes when the fishermen have dis-
missed the carcase of a whale, and left it floating
on the waves three or four leagues from the shore,
these animals will stand as near the water as they
can, and raising themselves on their hind legs,
snuff in the air till they are at length satisfied
when<?e the odour comes. * They then cast them-
selves into the sea, and »wim directly toward the
carcase. Their flesh is said to be coarse, and the
liver is extremely unwholesome ; but their skins
are used for coverings of various kinds, and their
tend<ms, when split asunder, are said to form ex«
ixjllent thread.

Here are rein-deer, very different from those
of Xapland. . They i^re grey and ^aggy, wit»^

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6 GR&£NLA;lfU.

horns like l hart^ having three or four brancBet
on each side^ about a ^t long, and two inches
broad ; and they have long ears and short tails*
They are very lean in the spring ; but in summer
they grow. so fat by feeding on a sort of yellow-
moss, that their flesh on the ribs is sometimes hut
iBches deep.

Neither snakes; nor any other venomoos crea^
turesy can live in this climate, nOr are the Green-
landers plagued with ratSy mice, Of beetles ; they
have neither ant« nor bees» yet moskettos^ oc
j^nats» swarm in this country, and are extremely

Greenland abounds with eagles, falcons,, large
speckled owls, ravens^ and in short wit the kiaas
of land and sea-fowl known in Norway^ are seen
here in amazing .numbers* The rivers afibrd
plenty of salmon, trout, and cray-fish ; and the
sea yields an inexhaustible variety of aU kindt^ o£
fish, except oysters.

The whales are larger than- in any otiier part of
the world, some of them being two hundred feed
in length, but the more U'^ual size is from fiftv to
eighty or a hundred. The true whale difers
iirom other fish that bear that name in his having
no teeth, instead of which he has a kind of horay,
substance growing on each side of his upper jjaw^
consisting of a great number of diflferent blade%
some a foot bnMtd at the bottom, and iw^e oc
fifteen feet long, ending in a sort of fringe, simh^
lar to hog's bri<ifcles» These when split and.
&sliioned are Called whcdebone^ <The whale hai^
a large flaltish head, with two small eyes,
not larger tlian those of an ox ; and ibr his bulk
he lias a nartow throat, being seldom more than a
foot wide^ though he can opea his jaws several.

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Moms. On the top of his head he has two
holes, through which he dratvs in air, and dis-
charges, water taken in at his mouth, which he
^oots up to a surprising height. His bones are
hard like those ot quadrupeds; hut. Instead of
having a cavity in the middle, they are porous
and full of marrow. The belly i^ white, but the
rest of the body is black or reddish ; and the flesh
Js coarse, hard, and mixed with sinews. The
outermost skin is thin, which covers another bU
most an inch thick, but so tender, that it is of
little defence to the animal against the assaults of
its enemies. Between this skin and the fiesh lies
|he fat or blubber, from whence train oil is pro-
cured by boiling. The whale has very strong
sinews abodf^the tail, with which he turns and
winds himself as he pleases, and «wiiDS with
wonderful swiilness *, making a track In the sea
like a large ship under sq\\. These animals are
much tormented with a kind of lice, which some-
times eat large holes in their bodies^ and k is
supposed they feel great pain before a storm,
being observed at such a time to tumble about in
a violent manner. As to the food of whales, it
is probably small fishes of several sorts ; but upoa
-opening their bodies there is seldom found any
thing but a few weeds, and a quantity of black
insects like spiders, which are very numerous in

* In fishes the tail is the grand instrument o^swim-
ming, not the fins, as is generally imagined, these only
serving to keep their bodies well poised and balanced,
and prevent vacillation. For this feason fishes are more
strong and mnsculous in the tail than any other part ;
and it is observable that the motive parts of all animals
arc the strongest, as tiie thighs of men for waiting, the
j>cctoral muscles of birds for flying, 3tc.

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8 GltEENLAND. . •" '

the northern seas. Whales copulate like qua-
drupeds, bring forth their young alive, and suckle
them with their millt.

Besides the whale there are many other re-
markable fishes and amphibious animals found
near Greenland, which requirfe a brief descrip-
tion. Some of these, indeed, are supposed to be
of the whale kind, particularly the fin-fish, which
equals the whale in length but not in thickness,
and has a fin on its back which the whale has
not ; from whence his name. He tlirows water
higher than a whale of his size ; has brown lips,
which are twisted like a rope; and the colour of
his body resembles that of a tench. He is ex-
tremely nimble, as well as strong; and is killed
in the same manner as the whale."*" When these
fish come upon the coast, the whales disappear.

The niorse, or sea-horse, is an amphibious
creature as large as an ox, with four feet, a thick
round head, and a short neck, in which lies
his greatest strength. His eyes are red, his ears
small, and his nostrils large, from whence he
spouts water. His skin is very thick and covered
with hair, and from his upper jaw proceed two
Jong teeth, which are as white as snow, and more
esteemed than ivory, as they keep tlieir cplour
better. This creature is very bold, makingj to-
wards a boat as soon as he is attacked, arid en-
deo vouri ng to overset it, sometimes tearing large
pieces from it with his teeth ; but the seamen
generally give him a warm reception, and dis-
patch him with lances. When whafes happen
lo be scarce, the. oil and' teeth of these animals
help to supply the deficiency. There is a little
island, lying directly south of Greenland, remark-
able for the great number of morses that frequen*

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the coast. It is called Cherry-Island ; and it ap-
pears from Harris's collection, that the Englisk
have formerly made several profitable voyages thi-
ther, where in one season they got three hogs-
heads of morses teeth, and made twenty-two tons
of oil out of the flesh of those animals. In the
year 1610 the Russia company took possession of
the island, and that year they killed a thousand
morses, and made about fifty tons of oil : but we
do not find that any ships have been sent thither
for more than a hundred years past. ,

The monoceros, or sea-unicorn, has been men-
tioned in the preceding chapter, as daring to
attack the largest whale with his horn ; but he is
not the only enemy .the whale has to deal with.
The sword-fish, so called from his sharp pointed
upper jaw resembling a sword, pursues the
whale and fin-fish with great eagerness. They
are of various sizes, from three to twenty feet in
length; are shaped almost like a man's arm, and
their eyes are remarkably prominent. A few of
them will dispatch a large whale, and when Lhey
have killed him they feed chiefly on his tongue ;
but sometimes they are deprived of their prey by
the fishermen who are spectators of the combat. .

Another enemy of the whale, and the most
voracious of all, is the hay, of .whk*h there are
several sorts, the largest being about eiglitcen
feet long, and generally of a greyish colour. This
fish does not kill the whale at once, but bites
large pieces of fat from his sides, making holes
as if they had been dug with a sfeovel ; insomuch,'
that fishermen have sometimes tauten whales which
feave had greatpart of their blubber torn away in
this manner. The Hver of the hay is exceeding
large, and ^bumds in oil ; and^ ms fleshy when

\0L. III. c

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dried some days in the air, and afterwards boiled
or roasted, is accounted tderabk food.


IT appear^ from the ancient Norwegian chro*
nicies, that Greenland formerly produced exceU
lent wheat, and that, large oaks were found here,
which carried acorns as big as apples.' Some of
these -oaks are still to be seen in the southern
parts, and i»roanv places the marks of ploughed
land are very visible ; but s^ present the country
is totally destitute of corn.. Cabbages^ turnips,
and colewort of an eitcellent flavour are prodiK^ed
on some of tlie low lands i and the sides of the
mouintains near the bays, are clothed with wild
thyme which dii&ises its aromatic odours to a con-*
siderable dl«ttance. Here also are found some
junip«r-berries, blue-berries, btl*berries, &c. but
the reader mast observe, that these productions aire
only to be seen between the sixtieth and sixty-
fiftu degrees of latitude ; for the more northerly
parts are totally destitute of vegetation.

Greenland is supposed to contain many mines
of metal, though npne of them are wrought. Mr.
Egede received a lump ofx-opper ore from one of
the natives who lived to the southward of the
Danish colony; and he sent a large quantity of
sand, of a yellow colour, intermixed with streaks
of Vermillion, to the Bergen company. It is highly
probable that this present proved very valusile,
ibr Mr. Egede was soon soHcited by letter, to pro-
cure as much of that sand as possible ; but as the
Wfark lie bad «et up was blown down by a iempe^^

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FISHCftfgtj TEAD£> &C. 11

he Mf^as never able to (md the place whence he
lock the iirat speetinen. This country produce*
rock crystals^ and enUre mountains of the asbestos
or incombustible flax. In some parts is also found
9' kind of bastard marble, which the natives Sotm
inti) laesps^ drinking vessels, iie»


TH£ profUs jirising frem Ike bone and dl of
the whales imluoes the £ngUth, Dutch, and soom
0th^r nations to send annually a numb^ of vessels
to the cp^t of Qfeenland, where those huge
creatures are taken m the fellowing manner.
When tke seamen see w hear a whale spout,
0very one hastenjs to his boat, of which there a^e
five orstx|}^ngiog to each ri)ip,and sixor sevea
men to each b^at ; and having rowed till they
come pretty near tb/s whaler the ha^Fpooneer strikes
him with his b&rpoon, which t.^ a kind of javelin
(ive or six feet Umg^ pointed with steel and
bearded h'ke m arrow, to the other end whereof
p line is (kstened. This requires both str^^gtb
and dexterity, in order to make the wound deep
enough, and in the most proper place. As soon
R8 the whale finds himself wounded, he plungof
swiftly towards the bottom of the deep, and would
inevkaUy sink tlie boat if tlie seamen did not
give him line enough, which they take care
io do by &stening one to another, sometimes to
the lengih of eight or nine hundred fathoms.
The man at the helm observes which way the
rope goes, and steers the boat accordingly, that
k may run out directly forwards, otherwise th^
c 2

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l2 creenlajnd:

boat would be overset ; and the harpooneer keeps
wetting the place where the line runs, J^st the boat
should take fire by the quickness of the motion.
. The other boats row before, and observe the
line, occasionally drawing it in "gently when
they ifind it ^slacken, to prevent the wfiale's en-
tangling it amongst the rocks. When the fish is
somewhat spent and weakened, he rises up again
for air, upon Avhich the harpooneer gives him a
j?econd wound, and perhaps they dart several little
spears into his body; till atJength being quite
i^xhausted, and fainting with the loss of blood, the
men have an opportunity of approaching and
thrusting a long steeled lance under his fins
into his intestines, which soon puts a period td
his existence. His vitals being touched, he spouts

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Online LibraryThomas SmithThe wonders of nature and art: or, A concise account of whatever ..., Volume 3 → online text (page 1 of 20)