Alaska ~ 1851

Polar Regions

How would you like, my little readers, to live among the Esquimaux, where they build snow houses to keep themselves warm, and think train-oil is a great deal better to eat than sweetmeats? It is too cold for trees of any size to grow there; and every where, as far as the eye can reach, there is nothing to be seen but ice and snow. For months no sun rises to cheer and warm them, and even in summer, they come to frozen ground by digging a few feet.

But God has left no portion of the world without it comforts and its beauties. Their long dreary winter night is cheered by brilliant auroras, which appear in every variety of beauty. Sometimes they scatter showers of rays in every direction; sometimes they spread out rapidly into long bands of light; sometimes they waver and curl, like a ribbon shaken by the hand; and sometimes, when the winds are high, they flit about wildly in every quarter of the heavens, giving rise to the Indian superstition that they are "the spirits of their fathers, roaming through the world of souls."

Many other splendid meteors are caused by the infraction of the polar ices. Four, five, and sometimes six mock suns accompany the real sun; the suns and the moon are often seen surrounded by splendid rainbows; and the edges of the horizon, at the morning and evening twilight, have a rich and fiery brilliancy, for superior to anything of the kind seen in other latitudes. The icebergs, as frightful as they are to sailors, must form a sublime picture. Sometimes they are large, and shoot up into such a variety of turrets and spires, that they look like a frozen city, drifting onto he world of waters. These immense masses sometimes appear black in the distance; sometimes they are covered with snow, and sometime they are of a beautiful pale green, dazzling and clear as crystals, with sheets of water tumbling down their sides.

These things must be very magnificent to look upon; but I should be very unwilling to live there, or even to venture among them in a ship. Many of the bold navigators who have braved the Polar Seas have perished; and other have returned with the most dismal account of the hardships they have endured. One of them says, "No sounds are to be heard but the dashing of the waves, the crashing collision of floating ice, the discordant notes of myriads of sea-fowl, the yelping of Arctic foxes, the snorting of the walruses, or the roaring of the Polar bears." -- Merrys Museum

People's Press, Vol. I, Salem, NC, Saturday, February 8, 1851

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