Page images
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

“THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE SEA.” |- its nobler phase, as the common highway What an incongruous idea do these of nations, which even despotism can not words present to the scholar! How appropriate, and as an essential part of thoroughly incomprehensible by the or- the complex terraqueous apparatus which dinary mind! Considering the ocean as constitutes “ The Life of the Earth.” but the great reservoir for receiving the From the earliest times, before the sailsuperfluous waters of the earth, as the or trusted himself to the open sea, a cernursery of the whale and its congeners, tain degree of knowledge of the tides and or as the dreaded grave of the seafaring the winds was required for the safe naviman, we have seldom regarded it under gation of his shores; but when he adven

* The Physical Geography of the Sea. By M. F. pass Committee to the Board of Trade, with Letters MAURY, LL.D., U.S.N., Superintendent of the Na- from the ASTRONOMER ROYAL thereupon. London, tional Observatory. An entirely New Edition (6th,) 1857. with Addenda. New York, 1857. With 13 Plates, Instructions for Correcting the Deviation of the pp. 384.

Compass. Edited by ARCHIBALD SMITH, Esq., M.A., Maury's Sailing Directions. 7th Edition. Febru- F.R.S., late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. ary, 1857. Pp. 870.

London, 1857. Report of the Meteorological Department of the Swinging Ships for Deviation. London, 1857. Board of Trade, 1857.

Weather Book ; Abstract of Log and Meteorological First and Second Reports of the Liverpool Com- Register. Issued by the Board of Trade.

First Number of Meteorological Papers. Published + Humboldt has given this name to what he by Authority of the Board of Trade. London, 1857 justly regards as a new department of science. Wind Charts. Published by the Board of Trade. VOL. XLIV.NO. IV.


tured across the Atlantic, or into the bo-, of which the sea is the nursery and the som of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, or grave. A brief history, therefore, of what attempted to circumnavigate the globe, has already been accomplished in this and reach its ice-bound poles, seamanship great enterprise, may be useful to some more advanced, and science more pro- of our readers, and we trust may be made found, were required. The currents in interesting and instructive to all. the atmosphere, the trade winds and It would be a difficult task, and one monsoons, the belts of calm, tropical and not necessary to our present purpose, to equatorial, the hurricanes and tornadoes give an account of the delays and danof the torrid zone, the thunder storms, gers to which the navigator is exposed in and the air and water-spouts of southern those remote seas which have been comclimates, perpetually distract the mariner paratively little visited by European or in his course, and demand from him all transatlantic communities. It will be sufthe skill which can be derived from sci- ficient to refer to the Atlantic Ocean, the ence and experience. Nor are the cur- great common of civilization, which is rents of the ocean less amenable to in- covered, at every season of the year, with quiry, and less formidable to the seaman thousands of vessels, intercarrying the than those of the atmosphere. The two produce of the old and new worlds, and Gulf Streams of the Northern and South- freighted with so many precious lives. ern Hemispheres, the currents from the The grand and peculiar feature of the Poles to the Equator, and from the Equa- Atlantic is the Gulf STREAM, which till tor to the Poles, and the bores and tidal recently has been regarded by the seaman waves of the East, perform important as a serious obstruction in his course. Igfuuctions in our terraqueous world, and norant of its strength and limits, his vesare only now revealing to science their sel was often drifted many miles out of origin and their laws.

its course, and the length of his voyage The study, therefore, of the sea, of its greatly extended.* Before the high tem. geography, its movements, and its physi- perature of thïs current was ascertained, cal condition, while it presents to the à voyage from Europe to New-England general reader topics at once popular and and New-York, and even so far south as instructive, affords to the philosopher a Cape Chesapeake, was both difficult and rich and boundless field of research, and dangerous. In approaching the American must eventually promote the highest in- coast, vessels were beset by snow-storms terests of humanity and civilization. As and gales, which baffled the strength and a new department of science, it has al- skill of the seaman. His bark became a ready excited the notice of every nation mass of ice, her crew frosted and helpless, in the Old and New World; and societies and “she remained obedient only to her and governments are actively employed helm, and was kept away for the Gulf in promoting the various inquiries which Stream.” On reaching its edge, she it demands, in order to shorten the voy- passed from a wintry sea into one at ages to distant lands, to guard life and summer heat. The ice disappeared from property which are risked at sea, and to the ship, and "the sailor bathed his stiffadvance those branches of knowledge ened limbs in the tepid waters of the which are associated with winds and stream ;" but in attempting again to waves, and embrace that profusion of life "make his port,” he is driven back from

the north-west, and exposed to the dan

gers which he had surmounted. In gales Great Circle Sailing. Published by the Board of of this kind many ships annually founder; Trade.

The Principles of Great Circle and Composite Sail and there are numerous instances in which ing. By John

THOMAS TOWSON. Printed for Pri vessels, with their crews enervated in trovate Circulation. Liverpool, 1857.

pical climates, have encountered, near the Translation of Dutch Pamphlets on the Herring capes of Virginia, snow-storms which have Fishery. London, 1858.

driven them back, again and again, into Meteorological Register kept by the EARL OF GIFFORD, in his Yacht Fair Rosamond, in 1857. Lon: the Gulf Stream, and prevented them from dor, 1857. Issued by the Board of Trade.

The Log of a Merchant Officer viewed with reference to the Education of Young Officers, and the Youth * In his passage a few years ago from Sierra of the Merchant Service. By ROBERT METHVEN, Leone to New-York, General Sabine was drifted, Commander in the Peninsular and Oriental Com- 1600 miles off his way by the force of currents pany. London, 1854.


making an anchorage, for fifty or sixty great certainty, and in the event of hazy days. In mid-winter, the number of weather, as to his position.” Although wrecks and the loss of life, along the this important discovery was made in Atlantic sea front, was frightful. Some- 1775, it was not generally made known times, in the month's average, the wrecks till 1790, when Dr. Franklin published amounted to three a day; and vessels his work on Thermometrical Navigation. which escaped this calamity, were blown Its beneficial employment in navigation off and obliged to take refuge in the was immediate. The northern ports of West-Indies, where they remained till America were as accessible in winter as spring, before they could venture to ap- in summer; and there seems to be no proach the inhospitable coast.

doubt that it was then the cause of the The Gulf Stream, to which these ca- great decline which took place in the lamities were due, has, by the agency of trade of the two Carolinas, a Charleston, science, become a boon to navigation. In the great southern emporium of that day, 1770, when Dr. Franklin was in London, being removed from its position as a halfhe learned the curious fact, that the Fal way house, and placed in the category of mouth packets to Boston arrived a fort- an outside station.” night later than the

trading vessels from In consequence of the great boon obLondon to Rhode Island, although the tained for navigation by the study of distance was much less. Captain Folger, the Gulf Stream, Lieutenant Maury, a a Nantucket whaler, then in London, ex-distinguished officer in the United States plained to the Doctor this singular ano- Navy, was led to collect from the captains maly. The Rhode Island captain was ac- of the mercantile marine all the facts quainted with the high temperature and which they had observed respecting the great velocity of the Gulf Stream, and winds, tides, currents, and temperature of turned it to account, not only as a refuge the ocean. After a careful examination from the snow-storms, and as a land-mark of them, he published the results at or beacon for the coast in all weathers, which he arrived, in his volume, entitled but as a means of shortening their voy. “The Wind and Current Charts," a work age. The English captains, ignorant of which has, to an extraordinary extent, the properties of the current, kept their shortened and rendered safe voyages that ships in it, and were set back sixty or had always been long and perilous. By seventy miles a day. Dr. Franklin viewed the use of his charts and sailing directhe discovery of the high temperature of tions, the average passage from England the Gulf Stream as of such importance that to Australia has been reduced from 125 he ungenerously, we think, kept it a se- to 97 days, the homeward passage having cret, as if it was a solution of the great been once made in 63 days! The passage problem of finding the longitude at sea, from New-York to California has, in like for which a reward, similar to that given manner, been reduced from 183 to 135 to Harrison, might be claimed.* Vessels days. The benefits thus conferred on having often been 5° and even 10° out of every maritime nation were so obvious, their reckoning, it was naturally thought that their respective governments, at the to be a solution of the problem of the desire of Lieutenant Maury, were induced longitude, “for, on approaching the to take an interest in the subject, and to coast," as our author observes, “the send qualified persons to discuss it at a current of warm water in the Gulf general conference. Representatives from Stream, and of cold water on this side England, France, Russia, Sweden, Norof it, if tried with the thermometer, way, Holland, Denmark, Belgium, Portuwould enable the mariner to judge with gal, and the United States, accordingly

met in Brussels on the 230 August, 1853,

and adopted a system of observations to * Mr. Maury says that Dr. Franklin concealed his be made on board all their vessels. Spain, discovery for a while "through political considerations;" but his observations on the longitude pro Prussia, Sardinia, the Holy See, Austria, blem indicate clearly that the motives of the Doc- Brazil, the republics of Bremen and Chili, tor must have been of a personal kind, for no con- and the free city of Hamburgh, subsesideration could be called political which withheld quently offered their cooperation in the from the American navigator the means of saving same plan; and the sea is now crowded merchant the rapid and safe conveyance of his with observers, who will carry on their property.

researches in war as well as in peace. In

the event of any of these vessels being importance, and one which can not fail to captured by an enemy, it has been ar- interest and to instruct every class of ranged that the journal containing the readers. observations, shall be held sacred; and After giving a description of the Gulf we trust that this union of nations to pro- Stream, one of the most remarkable phemote the common interest of humanity nomena in the ocean, he treats, in eightand commerce may lead to a more glori- een chapters, of the influence of this great ous combination to cultivate only the arts current on the climates of the north of of peace. In reducing to law the elements Europe and America ; of the atmosphere, which disturb the ocean, and in subjugat- with its storms, its land and sea-breezes, ing the rebellious powers which are so fa- its winds, and their geological agency; tally at play in the physical world, there the relation between the circulation of the is work enough to exhaust all the resour- atmosphere and magnetism; the currents, ces of the state, and to call forth all the salts, and depths of the ocean ; the equaskill and heroism of its servants. In this torial cloud-ring and color belts; the red peaceful strife, where conquests more val- fogs and sea-cloud; the climates of the uable than kingdoms are the prize, the ocean; the drift of the sea; the routes command to love our neighbor is never across it; the basins of the Atlantic; and broken, and fame, the reward of victory, the open sea in the Arctic regions. is as enduring as time and as noble as The Gulf Stream is a river in the ocean, virtue.

which never overflows in the mightiest After the Report of the Brussels con- floods, and is never dried up in the seference bad been laid before Parliament, verest droughts. Its current consists of a grant of money was made for the pur- warm, and its banks and bottom of cold, chase of instruments, and the discussion water. It has its origin in the Gulf of of observations, and a department of the Mexico, and its embouchure in the ArcBoard of Trade, under Rear-Admiral Fitz- tic Seas. Though a thousand times greatroy, was charged with the important task er in volume, it flows with a velocity of carrying into effect the contemplated greater than the Mississippi or the Ama. arrangements. In order to assist the offi- zon. The color of the stream is indigo cers of the navy and the ship-masters who blue ;* and so definite is its line of juncmay agree to coöperate in this great work, tion with the common sea-water, that forms of abstract logs have been prepared one half of a ship may be in blue, and for men-of-war and merchantmen; and the other in colorless, water, those who shall keep a journal of obser The cause of the Gulf Stream has long vations and results, and send an abstract been a problem among hydrographers; of it to the National Observatory at Wash and even with all the light that Lieutenant ington, will be furnished, free of cost, with Maury has thrown upon it, we can hardly a copy of Lieutenant Maury's Sailing Di- consider it as solved. Dr. Franklin was rections, and such sheets of the chart as of opinion that the Gulf Stream is the esrelate to the cruising-ground of the co- caping of the waters that are constantly operator. The American ship-masters en- forced into the Caribbean Sea by the trade tered warmly into these views; and in a winds; and that the water thus pressed short time the captains of more than a up, as it were, into a head, gives the curthousand floating observatories were en- rent its velocity. While Lieutenant gaged day and night, in every part of the Maury admits it as a fact, that the tradeocean, in making and recording their observations. Since the meeting of the * As the Gulf Stream contains 4 per cent of salt, Brussels conference, it has been proposed a larger quantity than common sea water, Lieutento extend this system of observations, to ant Maury is of opinion that its indigo blue color is the land, and thus to obtain from every owing to this cause. The same observer, however, inhabited part of the globe, a series of who measured the saltness of the Gulf Stream, simultaneous observations on the weather, of the trade wind regions ; but we are not told that

found that there was 44 per cent of salt in the sea which can not fail to advance the agricul- the blue color is there more rich and intense. We tural and sanitary interests of nations. believe that blue is the color of pure water, and is

Our readers will understand from these not produced by the salt which it contains. The details how Lieutenant Maury was led to green color of other seas arises from the yellow procompose his treatise on the Physical Geo- if any at all, in the blue Rhone, than in the green

duced by vegetable matter. There is no more salt, graphy of the Seama work of European waters of the Rhine.

winds skim the Atlantic of the water that northern limit, as it passes the south-east has supplied them with vapor, and thus extremity of Newfoundland, being in lat. drive a salter current into the Caribbean 40° 30' in winter, and in lat. 45° 30' in Sea; he regards the causes as unknown September, when the sea is hottest. This why it escapes by the channel of the Gulf oscillatory motion arises from the inequal Stream in preference to any other. In density of the waters on each side of itaddition to the action of the trade-winds, at one time pressed to the right, and at he conceives that there are two causes in another to the left, according to the seaoperation which may explain the Gulf sons of the year, and the consequent Stream-one the increased saltness of changes of temperature in the sea. the water driven into the Caribbean Sea, The great mass of water which constiand the other the small quantity of' salt in tutes the Gulf Stream, has a variety of the Baltic and Northern Seas. The heavy temperatures. The hottest portion is at or salter water, will therefore flow into or near the surface, the heat diminishing the region where it is fresher and lighter. downwards to the bottom of the current, But the temperature of the Gulf Stream which never reaches the bottom, there is often 200 and even 30° higher than being always a curtain of cool water bethat of the ocean; and as water expands tween the stream and the solid earth bewith heat, the difference of weight pro- neath. The object of this arrangement, duced by difference of saltness may be according to Lieutenant Maury, is to carry thus more than compensated, and the the stream warm to France, Great Britain, waters of the Gulf Stream be lighter than and the west of Europe, by making it those of the ocean. If lighter, then they pass over the non-conducting cold water must occupy a higher level than the wa-at the bottom. Had the stream rushed ters through which they flow; assuming over the solid crust of the earth, which is the shape of a roof, or a double inclined comparatively a good conductor, it would plane, from which water will run down have lost much of its heat before it reached on either side--cold water running in at the west of Europe, and, we may add, it the bottom, raising up the cold-water bed would have been greatly obstructed in its of the Gulf Stream, and making it shal- motion. We can hardly agree with our lower in its progress northward. That author, when he says, " that, but for this this is the constitution of this remarkable arrangement, the soft climates of both current, has been placed beyond a doubt. France and England would be as that of Boats in or near the center, or axis, of Labrador, severe in the extreme, and icethe stream, invariably drift to one side or bound.” the other. Sea-weed (fucus natans) and But it is not merely in its vertical didrift-wood appear in large quantities on rection that the temperature of the Gulf the outer edge of the stream. Very little Stream varies. The heat of the current sea-weed and drift-wood is found on the will of course diminish from its middle to eastern edge of it; and its accumulation its edges, but we were not prepared to on its western edge, is ascribed by our expect that it consisted of threads of author to the diurnal rotation of the earth. warm, alternating with threads of colder

In its course northward, the Gulf water; so that, in sailing across it from Stream tends more and more to the east, America, there is a remarkable series of till, at the banks of Newfoundland, it is thermometrical elevations and depressions almost easterly. Its warm waters' here on the surface temperature of this mighty melt the icebergs from the Arctic seas, river in the sea." which deposit the rocks, the earth, and In treating of the influence of the Gulf the gravel which they bore, thus forming Stream upon climates, our author regards banks at the bottom of the ocean. From it as a portion of a great heating apparathis locality the stream flows, in a state tus, similar to the hot-water apparatus of increasing expansion, to the British which is used for heating our dwellings: Islands, to the North Sea, and the Frozen the Torrid Zone is the furnace, the MexiOcean, passing along the east and west can Gulf and the Caribbean Sea the caulcoasts of Greenland, and modifying, per- drons, the Gulf Stream the conducting haps to some small extent, the climate of these inhospitable regions. When the Gulf Stream leaves the United States, it Hatteras, in N. lat. 35° 13', and W. long. 75o 30%

* The temperature of the surface water at Cape varies its position with the seasons; its is about 80°, and 670 at the depth of 3000 feet.

« PreviousContinue »