Skip to main content

Full text of "The voyage of the Vega round Asia and Europe; with a historical review of previous journeys along the north coast of the Old World"

See other formats

Marim ^ioio^ical Ubomforu Ubraru 

'V^ocds 0(o\c, Massachusetts 

^OYAQES • OF • Exploration 



^hiiM^ia archttcct mphcvf of 
Qhomas Oiarnson MontQomeru il$15-t9i2\ 
QABL mmtiQdtor, md ^nscilk ^rmfm 
!M0tJt^mcj i 1674- '19561 MBL Ubranan. 

^jjt oj tharsons C^u^h IMmt^mJcr^, MfD, 
md ^aummd^. Mont^omcru — 19$7, 






Vessel Intended to Reach North Pole 
Is Named for President 

•cTTrK-qpORT Me., March 23. — Com- 
xn??de?RoSert E. Peary's Arctic explora- 
S steamship Roosevelt was launched 
here todav. The ship was designed by 
na^al architect William F. Wmant, of 
New York It is considered the strongest 
in construction, most ^ov^^r'^^l^fj^^ 
pnuiDoed craft for combatmg the Arctic 
fcT ever built. The principal dimensions 
of the vessel are: Length over all. IS^ 
?eet beam, 35.5 feet; depth 16.3 feet; mean 
iraf t wim stores, 17 feet; gross tonnage 
614 tons and estimated displacement about 
15J0 The model is similar to modern buUt 

^^Th" reeVYs"l6 inches thick, hut false 
keels and keelsons form a backbone pro- 
Sing six feet under the entire length 
of the vessel. 

























This popular account of the voyage of the Vega round Asia 
and Europe is herewith presented to the friends of geographical 
research in an English translation. Along with the sketch 
of the voyage itself, of the natural conditions on the north 
coast of Siberia, of the animal aad vegetable life prevailing- 
there, and of the races with whom we in contact in 
the course of the voyage, the work contains a review, as com- 
plete as space permitted, of jDreceding exploratory voyages 
to the Polar Sea of Europe and Asia, from King Alfred's 
account of the first North-East voyage under the Northman. 
Othere, down to the expeditions for sport and hunting of 
the past decade. For it would have been too ungrateful, in 
an account of the voyage of the Vega, not to have referred 
at some length to our predecessors, who, with indescribable 
struggles and difficulties, and generally with the sacrifice of 
health and life, paved the way along which we advanced, 
made possible the victory we achieved. In this way, besides, 
the work itself has gained a much-needed variety, for nearly 
all the narratives of the older North-East voyages contain 
in abundance what a sketch of our own adventures has not 
to offer, but what many readers, perhaps, will expect to find 
in a book such as this — accounts of dangers and misfortunes 
of a thousand sorts by land and sea. 

May the prominent part which England and America have 
played in the history of Polar Exploration, and the lively 
interest that everywhere in these countries has been taken in 
the voyage of the Vega, secure for this work a friendly recejj- 
tion ; and, above all, may the voyage of the Vega conduce to 
maintain the desire for Arctic Research till the veil which still 
conceals the lands round the North and South Poles be com- 
pletely removed. Many a problem of great importance to 
mankind still waits for a solution from the ice-deserts of the 
Polar Seas and the Polar Lauds ; many a splendid victory in 
the service of science is still to be won in those distant 


LoxDOX, Xovcmhcr, 18S1. 


Having been honoured by a request from Baron Nordenskiold 
that I would undertake the translation of the work in which 
he gives an account of the voyage by which the North-East 
Passage was at last achieved, and Asia and Europe circum- 
navigated for the first time, I have done my best to reproduce 
in English the sense of the Swedish original as faithfully as 
possible, and at the same time to preserve the style of the 
author as far as the varying idioms of the two languages 

I have to thank two ladies for the help they kindly gave 
me in reading proofs, and my friend Herr Gustaf LindstrOm, 
for valuable assistance rendered in various ways. 

Where not otherwise indicated, temperature is stated in 
degrees of the Centrigrade or Celsius thermometer. Longi- 
tude is invariably reckoned from the meridian of Greenwich. 

Wliere distance is stated in miles without qualification, 
the miles are Swedish (one of which is equal to Q'Q4! 
English miles), except at page 282, where the geographical 
square miles are German, each equal to sixteen English 
geographical square miles. 


Cherryvale, Aberdeen, 
24th November, 1881. 


Page 38, under Wood-cut, /or " cliaiummorus," read " chauiaemorus." 
Page 109, line 12 from top, for "remove," read " roll away." 


Intkoduction Page 1 


Departure — Troinsoe — Members of the Expedition — Stay at Maosoe — Limit of 
Trees — Climate — Scurvy and Antiscorbutics — The tirst doubling of North 
Cape — Othere's account of his Travels — Ideas concerning the Geography of 
Scandinavia current during the first half of the sixteenth century — The 
oldest Majis of the North — Herbertstein's account of Istoma's voyage — 
Gustaf Vasa and the North-East Passage — Willoughby and Chaiicelor's 
voyages .......... Pages 30 — 57 


Departure from Maosoe — Gooseland — State of the Ice — The Vessels of the 
Expedition assemble at Chabarova — The Samoyed town there — The Church — 
Russians and Samoyeds — Visit to Chabarova in 1875 — Purchase of Samoyed 
Idols — Dress and dwellings of the Samoyeds — Comparison of the Polar 
Races — Sacrificial Places and Samoyed Grave on Waygats Island visited — 
Former accounts of the Samoyeds — Their j^lace in Ethnography. 

Pages 57—83 


From the Animal "World of Novaya Zemlya — The Fulmar Petrel— The Rotge or 
Little Auk — Briinnich's Guillemot — The Black Guillemot — The Arctic Pufiin 
— The Gulls— Richardson's Skua — Tlie Tern — Ducks and Geese— The Swan 
— Waders— The Snow Bunting — The Ptarmigan — The Snowy Owl — The 
Reindeer — The Polar Bear — The Arctic Fox — The Lemming — Insects— The 
Walrus— The Seal— Whales Pages 83—130 


The Origin of the names Yugor Schar and Kara Sea— Rules for Sailing through 
Yugor Schar— The "Highest Mountain" on Earth— Anchorages— Entering 
the Kara Sea— Its Surroundings- The Inland-ice of Novaya Zemlya— True 
Icebergs rare in certain parts of the Polar Sea— The Natural Conditions^ of 
the Kara Sea— Animals, Plants, Bog-ore— Passage across the Kara Sea— The 
Influence of the lee on the Sea-bottom — Freshwater Diatoms on Sea-ice — 
AiTival at Port Dickson — Animal Life there — Settlers and Settlements at the 
Mouth of the Yeniscj— The Flora at Port Dickson— E vertebrates— Excursion 
to Wliite Island— Yalmal— Previous Visits— Nummelin's Wintering on the 
Briochov Islands Pages 131—164 



The history of the ISTorth-East Passage from 1556 to 1878— BuiToiigh, 1556 — Pet 
and Jackmaii, 1580 — The first voyage of tlie Dutch, 1594 — Oliver Brunei — 
The second voyage, 1595 — The third voyage, 1596 — Hudson, 1608 — Gourdon, 
1611— Bosnian, 1625 — Dela Martiiiiere, 1653 — Vlamingh, 1664— Snohberger, 
1675 — Roule reaches a land north of Novaya Zeialya — Wood and Flawes, 
1676 — Discussion in England concerning the state' of the ice in the Polar Sea 
— Views of the condition of the Polar Sea still divided — Payer and 
Weyprecht, 1872-74 Pages 164—205 


The North-east Voyages of the Russians and Norwegians — Rodivan Ivanov, 
1690 — The Great Northern Expedition, 1734-37 — ^The supposed richness in 
metals of Novaya Zemlya — Juschkov, 1757 — Savva Loschldn, 1760 — 
Rossmuislov, 1768 — Lasarev, 1819— Liitke, 1821-24— Ivanov, 1822-28- 
Pachtussov, 1832-35— Von Baer, 1837— Zivolka and Moissejev, 1838-39— 
Von Ivrusenstern, 1860-62— The Origin and History of the Polar Sea 
Hunting— Carlsen, 1868— Ed. Johannesen, 1869-70— Ulve, Mack, and 
Quale, 1870 — Mack, 1871 —Discovery of the Relics of Barents' wintering 
— Tobiesen's wintering, 1872-73— The Swedish Expeditions, 1875 and 1876 
— Wiggins, 1876 — Later Voyages to and from the Yenisej Pages 205 — 242 


Departure from Port Dickson — Landing on a rocky island east of the Yenisej — 
Self-dead animals — Discovery of crystals on the surface of the drift-ice — 
Cosmic dust — Stay in Actinia Bay — .Johannesen's discovery of the island 
Ensamheten — Arrival at Cape Chelyuskin — The natural state of the land and 
sea there — Attempt to penetrate right eastwards to the New Siberian Islands 
— The effect of the mist — Abundant dredging-yield — Preobraschenie Island — 
Separation from the Lena at the month of the river Lena. Pages 243- — 270 


Tiie voyage of the Fraser and the Express up the Yenisej and their return to 
Norway — Contract for the piloting of the Lena up the Lena river — The 
voyage of the Lena through the delta and up the river to Yakutsk — The 
natural state of Siberia in general—The river territories — The fitness of the 
land for cultivation and the necessity for improved communications — The 
great rivers, the future commercial highwaj's of Siberia — Voj-age up the 
Yenisej in 1875 — Sibiriakoff's Island — The tundra— '\^'he primeval Siberian 
forest — The inhabitants of Western Siberia : the Russians, the Exiles, the 
"Asiatics" — Ways of travelling on the Yenisej : dog-boats, floating trading 
stores propelled by steam — New x^'osjiects for Siberia . Pages 270 — 300 


The new Siberian Islands — The Mammoth — Discovery of Mammoth and 
Rhinoceros mummies — Fossil Rhinoceros horns — Stolbovoj Island — Liachoff's 
Island — First discovery of this island — Passage through the sound between 
this island and the mainland — Animal life there — Formation of ice in water 
above the freezing point — The Bear Islands — The quantity and dimensions 
of the ice begin to increase — Different kinds of sea-ice — Renewed attempt to 
leave the open channel along the coast — Lighthouse Island — Voyage along 
the coast to Cape Schelagskoj — Advance delayed by ice, shoals, and fog 


— First meeting with the Chukches — Landing and visits to Chukch villages 
— Discover}^ of abandoned encampments — Trade M'ith the natives rendered 
difficult by the want of means of exchange — -Stay at Irkaipij — Onkilou 
graves — Information regarding the Onkilon race — Renewed contact with the 
Chukches — Kolpitschin Bay — American statements regarding the state of 
the ice north of Behring's Straits — The Vega beset . Pages 301 — 348 


Wintering becomes necessary — The position of the Vega — The ice round the 
vessel— American ship in the neighbourhood of the Fega when frozen in — 
The nature of the neighbouring country — The Vega, is prepared for wintering 
— Provision-depot and observatories established on land — The winter dress 
— Temperature on board — Health and dietary — Cold, wind, and snow — The 
Chukches on board — Menka's visit — Letters sent home — Nordquist and 
Hovgaard's excursion to Menka's encampment — Another visit of Menka — 
The fate of the letters — Nordquist's journey to Pidlin — Find of a Chukch 
grave — Hunting — Scientific work — Life on board — Christmas Eve. 

Pages 349—395 


Hope of release at the new year — Bove's excursion to the open water — Mild 
weather and renewed severe cold — Mercury frozen — Popular lectures — 
Brusewitz'a excursion to Najtskaj — Another despatch of letters home — The 
natives' accounts of the state of the ice on the coast of Chukch Land — The 
Chukches caiT}^ on traffic between Arctic America and Siberia — Excursions in 
the neighbourhood of winter quarters — The weather during spring — The 
melting of the snow — The aurora — The arrival of the migratory birds — The 
animal world of Chukch Land — NoaliElisej's relief expedition — A remarkable 
fish — The countiy clear of snow — Release — The North-East Passage 
achieved ......... Pages 395^451 

The history, physique, disposition, and manners of the Chukches Pages 451 — 510 


The development of our knowledge of the north coast of Asia— Herodotus — 
Strabo — Pliny — Marco Polo — Herbertstein's map — The conquest of Siberia 
by the Russians — Deschnev's voyages — Coast navigation between the Lena 
and the Kolyma — Accounts of islands in the Polar Sea and old voyages to 
them — The discovery of Kamchatka — The navigation of the Sea of Okotsk is 
opened by Swedish prisoners-of-war — The Great Northern Expedition — 
Behring — Schalaurov — Andreyev's Land — The New Siberian islands — 
Hedenstrnm's expeditions— Anjou and Wrangel — Voyages from Behring's 
Straits svestward — Fictitious Polar voyages . . . Pages 510—562 


Passage through Behring's Straits— Arrival at Nunamo — Scarce species of seal — 
Rich vegetation — Passage to America — State of the ice — Port Clarence — The 
Eskimo — Return to Asia — Konyam Bay — Natural conditions there — The ice 
breaks up in the interior of Konyam Bay — St. Lawrence Island — Preceding 
visits to the Island — Departure to Behring Island . . Pages 562 — 592 



The position of Behring Island — Its inhabitants — The discovery of the Island by 
Behring — Behring's death — Steller— The former and present fauna on the 
Island : foxes, sea-otters, sea-cows, sea-lions, and sea-bears — Collection of 
bones of the Ehj-tina — Visit to a "rookery" — Torporkoff Island — 
Alexander DuboTski — Voyage to Yokohama — Lightning stroke. 

Pages 592—620 


Arrival at Yokohama — A Telegram sent to Enrope — The stranding of the Steamer 
A. E. Nordcn-''J:i6ld — Fetes in Japan — The Minister of IVIarine, Kawamnra — 
Prince Kito-Shira-Kava — Audience of the Mikado — Graves of the Shoguns — 
Imperial Garden at Tokio — The Exhibition there — Visit to Enoshima — 
Japanese Manners and Customs — Thunberg and Kampfer . Pages 621 — 644 


Excursion to Asamayama — The Nakasendo road — Takasaki — Difficulty of obtain- 
ing Quarters for the Isight — The Baths at Ikaho — Massage in Japan — 
Swedish matches — Travelling in Eago — Savavatari — Criminals — Kusatsu — 
The Hot Springs and their healing power — Rest at Rokurigahara — The 
Summit of Asamayama — The Descent — Journey over Usui-toge — Japanese 
Actors — Pictures of Japanese Folk-life — Return to Yokohama. 

Pages 644—668 


Farewell dinner at Yokohama — The Chinese in Japan — Voyage to Kobe — Purchase 
of Japanese Books — Journey bj' rail to Kioto — Biwa Lake and the Legend of 
its Origin — Dredging there — Japanese Dancing-Girls — Kioto — The Imperial 
Palace — Temples — Swords and Sword-bearers — Shiiitoism and Buddhism — 
The Porcelain Manufacture — Japanese Poetry — Feast in a Buddhist Temple 
— Sailing across the Inland Sea of Japan — Landing at Hirosami and Shimo- 
noseki — Nagasaki — Excursion to Mogi — Collection of Fossil Plants — 
Departure from Japan ....... Pages 668 — 693 


Hong Kong and Canton — Stone-polishing Establishments at Canton — Political 
Relations in an English Colony — Treatment of the Natives — Voyage to 
Labuan — Coal Mines there — Excursion to the shore of Borneo— Malay 
Villages — Singapore — Voyage to Ceylon — Point de Galle — The Gem Mines 
at Ratnapoora — Visit to a Temple — Purchase of Manuscripts — The Popula- 
tion of Ceylon — Dr. Almquist's Excursion to the Interior of the Island. 

Pages 693—721 


The Journey Home — Christmas, 1879 — Aden — Suez — Cairo — Excursion to the 
Pyramids and the Mokattam Mountains — Petrified Tree-stems — The Suez 
Canal — Landing on Sicily by night — Naples — Rome — The Members of the 
Expedition separate — Lisbon — England — Paris — Copenhagen — Festive Entry 
into Stockholm — Fetes there — ConclTision . . . Pages 721 — 741 


Engraved on Steel by G. J. Stodart of London. 

Adolf Erik ITordenskiold ...... To face Title-page. 

Oscar Dickson ......... ,, Page 1 

Alexander Sibiriakoff . . . . . . . ,, ,, 3 

Louis Palander ........ ,, ,, 450 


1. Map of North Europe, from Nicholas Donis's edition of Ptolemy's 

Cos)nogra2)hm, Ulm, 1482 . .43 

2. Map of the Nortli, from Jakob Ziegler's Schondia, Strassburg, 1532 . 44 

3. Map of North Europe from Olai Magni Historia dc gentium septcn- 

trionaliuTn variis conditionibus, Basil, 1567 . . . . .45 

4. Russian Map of the North Polar Sea from the beginning of the 17th 

century, published in Holland in 1612 by Isaac Massa . . . 181 

5. ilap sho\ving Barents' Third Voj'age, from J, L. Pontani Ecrum et urbis 

Avistelodamounum historia, Amst., 1611 ..... 190 

6. Map of Port Dickson, by G. Bove. Map of Cape Bolvan on Yaygats 

Island, by the author. The Lena's cruise in Malygin Sound, by 

A. Hovgaard. Slap of Cape Chelyuskin, bj- G. Bove . . . 243 

7. Sketch- Map of Taimur Sound ; Map of Actinia Bay, both by G. Bove . 252 

8. Map of the Eiver System of Siberia 283 

9. Herbertstein's Map of Russia, 1550 (photolithographic facsimile) . . 517 
10. Map of the North Coast of the Old TTorld from Norway to Behring's 

Straits, with the track of the Vega, constructed from old and 
recent sources, and from observations made during the Voyage of 
the Vega, by N, Selander, Captain in the General Staff . . 740 


Tlic wood-cuts, when not, otherwise stated below, vjere engraved at Herr Wilhchn 
Meyer s Xylographlc Institute in Stockholm, 


1. The Vega under sail, drawn by Captain J. Hiigg .... 1 

2. The Vega —Longitudinal section, drawn by Lieut. C. A. M. Hjulhammar 4 

3. ,, ,, Plan of arrangement under deck, drawn by ditto . . 4 

4. ,, ,, Plan of upper deck, drawn by ditto .... 4 

5. The Lena — Longitudinal section, drawn by Marine-engineer J. Pihlgren 5 

6. ,, ,, Plan of arrangement under deck, drawn by ditto . . 5 

7. ,, ,, Plan of upper deck, drawn by ditto .... 5 

8. Flag of the Swedish Yacht Club, drawn by V. Andren ... 29 

9. Tromsoe, drawn by R. Haglund . . . . . . .31 

10. Old AVorld Polar dress, drawn by 0, Sorliug 34 

11. New World Polar Dress, drawn by Decent A. Kornerup, Copenhagen. 35 

12. Limit of Trees in Norway, drawn by R. Haglund, engraved by 

J. Engberg 36 

] 3. Limit of Trees in Siberia, drawn by ditto ...... 37 

14. The Cloudberry (Ruhus Chamcemorus, L.), drawn by Mrs. Professor 

A. Anderssen .......... 38 

15. Norse Ship of the Tenth Century, drawn by Harald Schoyen, Christiania 42 

16. Sebastian Cabot, engraved by Miss Ida Falander .... 49 

17. Sir Hugh "Willoughby, engi'aved by J. D. Cooper, London to face jjage 49 

18. Vardoein 1594 52 

19. Vardoe in our days, drawn by R. Haglund 53 

20. Coast Landscape from Matotschkin Schar, drawn by R, Haglund . 56 

21. Church of Chabarova, drawn by V. Andren ..... 61 

22. Samoyed "Woman's Hood, drawn by 0, Sorling 65 

23. Samoyed Sleigh, drawn by R. Haglund 66 

24. Lapp Akja, drawn by ditto ; engraved by J. Engberg ... 67 

25. Samoyed Sleigh and Idols ......... 68 

26. Samoyed Idols, drawn by 0. Sorling ....... 69 

27. Samoyed Hair Ornaments, drawn by ditto ..... 70 

28. Samoj'ed Woman's Dress, drawn by R. Haglund ... 71 

29. Samoyed Belt with Knife, drawn by 0. Sorling . . .72 





30. Sacrificial Eminence on Vaygats Island, drawn by R. Haglund ; 

engraved by J. Engberg . . . . . . . .74 

31. Idols from the Sacrificial Cairn, drawn by 0. Stirling .... 75 

32. Sacrificial Cavity on Vaygats Island, drawn by V. Andrdn . . 77 

33. Samoyed Grave on Vaygats Island, drawn by R. Haglund ; engi-aved 

by 0. Dahlback 78 

34. Samoyed Archers "• .79 

35. Samoyeds from Schleissing's Neu-entdecMes Sieweria .... 

36. Breeding-place for Little Auks, drawn by R. Haglund 

37. The Little Auk, or Rotge {Mergulus AlU, L. ), drawn by M. Westergren 

38. The Loom, or Briinuich's GvaWemoi {UiHa BriinnicMi, Sabine), drawn 

by ditto ......... 

39. The Arctic Puffin {Mormon Ardicus, L.), drawn by ditto . 

40. Tlie Black Guillemot {Uria Grylle, L.), drawn by ditto 

41. Breeding-place for Glaucous Gulls, drawn by R. Haglund . 

42. The Kittiwake (Lams tridactylu«, L. ), and the Ivory Gull {Larus 

ehurneus, L.), drawn by M. Westergren .... 

Rare Northern Gulls — Sabine's Gull [Larus Sabinii, Sabine) — Ross 
Gull {Larus Rossii, Richards), drawn by ditto 

The Common Skua (Lestris parasitica, L. ) — Buffoon's Skua {Lestri 
Buffonii, Boie) — the Pomarine Skua {Lestris pomarina, Tern 
drawn by ditto ......... 

45. Heads of the Eider, King Duck, Barnacle Goose, and "White-fronted 

Goose, drawn by ditto ...... 

46. Bewick's Swau {Ci/gmis Bcickkii, Yarr. ), drawn by M. Westergr 

47. Breastbone of Cygnus BcH-ichii, showing the peculiar position 

windpipe, drawn by ditto ...... 

48. Ptarmigan Fell, drawn by R. Haglund .... 

49. The Snowy Owl {Strix riyctea, L. ), drawn by M. Westergren 

50. Reindeer Pasture, di-awn by R. Haglund .... 

51. Polar Bears, drawn by G. Miitzell, engraved by K. Jahrmargt, both of 

Berlin ......... 

52. Ditto 

53. AValruses, drawn by M. Westergren .... 

54. AValrus Tusks, drawn by ditto 

55. Hunting Implements, drawn by 0. Scaling . 

56. Walrus Hunting, after Olaus Magnus 

57. Walruses (female with young) . . . . 

58. Japanese Drawing of the Walrus .... 

59. Young of the Greenland Seal, drawn by M. Westergren 

60. The Bearded Seal {Phoca barbata, Fabr. ), drawn by ditto 

61. The Rough Seal {Phoca hispida, Erxl.), drawn by ditto 

62. The White Whale {Dcljildnupterus leucas, Pallas), drawn by ditto 

63. Section of Inland-ice ....... 

64. View from the Inland-ice of Greenland, drawn by H. Haglund 

65. Slowly advancing Glacier, drawn by ditto .... 

66. Glacier with Stationary Front, drawn by 0. Sorling . 

of the 












67. Greenland Ice-fjord, drawn by H. Haglund 138 

68. Umbellnla from the Kara Sea, drawn by M. Westergren . . . 141 

69. Elpidia Glacialis (Thoel), from tlie Kara Sea, drawn by ditto . . 142 

70. Manganiferous Iron-ore Formations from the Kara Sea, drawn by 

0. Sorling .......... 

71. Section from the Sonth Coast of jMatotschkin Sound, drawn by the 

geologist. E. Erdnian ........ 

72. ilap of the Mouth of the Yenisej (zincograph) .... 

73. Ruins of a Simovie at Krestovskoj, drawn by 0. Sorling 

74. Sieversia Glacialis, R. Br., from Port Dickson, drawn by Mrs. Prof. 

Anderssen ...... ... 

75. Evertebrates from Port Dickson, Yoldia artica, Graj-, and DiasfyUs 

Rathkci, Kr., drawn by M. Westergren .... 

76. Place of Sacrifice on Yalmal, drawn by R. Haglund . 

77. "Jordgammor" on the Briochov Islands, drawn by ditto . 

78. Russian "Lodja" ......... 

79. Dutch Skipper 

80. Capture of a Polar Bear ........ 

81. Jan Huyghen van Linschoten ....... 

82. Kilduin, in Russian Lapland, in 1594 ..... 

83. ilap of Fretum Nassovicum or Yugor Schar .... 

84. Unsuccessful Fight with a Polar Bear ..... 

85. Barents' and Rijp's Yessels ....... 

86. Barents' House, outside ........ 

87. Ditto inside 

88. Jacob van Heemskerk ........ 

89. De la Martiniere's JMap ........ 

90. Ammonite with Gold Lustre [Amvionites altcrnans, v. Buch), drawn by 

AI. "Westergren ......... 

91. View from Matotschkin Schar, drawn by R. Haglund 

92. Friedrich Benjamin von Liitke, drawn and engraved by Miss Iil 

Falander .......... 

93. August Karlovitz Zivolka, drawn and engraved by ditto 

94. Paul von Krusenstern, Junior, drawn and engraved by ditto 

95. Michael Konstantinovitseh Sidoroff, drawn and engraved by ditto 

96. Norwegian Hunting Sloop, drawn by Captain J. Hiigg 

97. Filing Carlsen, engraved by J. D. Cooper, of London 

98. Edward Holin Johannesen, engraved by ditto .... 

99. Sivert Kristian Tobiesen, engi'aved by ditto .... 

100. Tobiesen's Winter House on Bear Island, drawn by R Haglund . 

101. Joseph AViggins, drawn by R. Haglund ..... 

102. David Ivanovitsch Schwanenberg, drawn and engraved by Miss Ida 

Fallander .......... 

103. Gustaf Adolf Nummelin, drawn and engraved by ditto 

104. The Sloop Utrennaja Saria, drawn by Captain J. Hagg 

105. The J'cfja and Lnia anchored to an Ice-floe, drawn by P. Haglund 











106. Hairstar from the Taimur Coast {Antcdon Eschrictii, J. Miiller) drawn 

by M. Westergi-en 248 

107. Form of the Crj'stals found on the we otf the Taimur Coast . . 249 

108. Section of the upper part of the Snow on a Drift-ice Field in 80° N.L. 251 

109. Grass from Actinia Bay {Pleurojmgon Sahini, R. Br ), drawn by Mrs. 

Professor Anderssen ......... 254 

110 Tlie Vega and Lena saluting Cape Chelyuskin, drawn by R. Haglund 257 

111. View at Cape Chelyuskin during the stay of the Expedition, drawn 

by ditto 258 

112. The Beetle living farthest to the North [Micrcuymma Diclsom, Miickl.) 

drawn by M. Westergren 259 

113. 2)?-a&« ^/^nwrt, L., from Cape Chelyuskin, drawn by ditto . . . 260 

114i Oiihiurid from the Sea north of Cape Chelyuskin (Ojihiacaniha hiden- 

tote, Retz.), drawn by ditto 262 

11 5i Sea Spider (Pyciiogo7tid) from the Sea east of Cape Chelyuskin, drawn 

by ditto ' , . 265 

116i Preobraschenie Island, drawn by R. Haglund ..... 268 

117. The steamer i^r«ser, drawn by ditto 271 

118. The Steamer icrMj drawn by ditto ....... 277 

119. Hans Christian Johannesen, engi'aved by J. D. Cooper, London . . 278 

120. Yakutsk in the Seventeenth Century ...... 281 

121. Yakutsk in our daysj drawn by R. Haglund ..... 282 

122. River View on the Yenissej, drawn by ditto ..... 286 

123. Sub-fossil Marine Crustacea from the tundra, drawn byM. Westergren 288 

124. Siberian River Boat, drawn by R. Haglund 292 

125. Ostyak Tent, drawn by ditto 294 

126. Towing with Dogs on the Yeuisej, drawn by Professor R. D. Holm . 295 

127. Fishing-boats on the Ob, drawn by R Haglund . . . .296 

128. Graves in the Primeval Forest of Siberia, drawn by ditto . , . 297 

129. Chukch Village on a Siberian River, drawn by ditto .... 299 

130. Mammoth Skeleton in the Imperial Museum of the Academy of 

Sciences in St. Petersburg, drawn by M. Westei-gren . . . 303 

131. Restored Form of the Mammoth 304 

132. Siberian Rhinoceros Horn, drawn by M. "Westergren and V. Andr^n . 307 

133. Stolbovoj Island, drawn by R. Haglund 312 

134. IdotJua Entomon, Lin., drawn by M. Westergren .... 314 

135. IdotJica Sabinci, Kroyer, drawn by ditto ...... 315 

136. Ljachoff's Island, drawn by R. Haglund ...... 317 

137. Beaker Sponges from the Sea otf the mouth of the Kolyma, drawn by 

M. Westergren 322 

138. Lighthouse Island, drawn by R. Haglund ...... 323 

139. Chukch Boats, drawn by 0. Sorling 325 

140. A Chukch in Seal-gut Great-coat, drawn and engraved by Miss Ida 

Falander ........... 326 

141. Chukch Tent, drawn by R. Haglund 328 

142. Section of a Chukch Grave, drawn by 0. Sorling 330 

143. Irkaipij, drawn by R. Haglund 333 



144. Kuins of an Onkilon House, drawn by 0. Sorling .... 334 

14.^. Iinplements found in the Euins of an Onkilon House, drawn by ditto 335 

146. Alga from Irkaipij (Laminaria Solidungula, J. G. Ag.), drawn by 

"M. Westergren 341 

147. Cormorant ft-om Irkaipij {Graculus hknostatus, Pallas), drawn by ditto 342 

148. Pieces of Ice from tlie Coast of the Chukch Peninsula, drawn by 0. Sorling 344 

149. Toross from the neighbourhood of the Vegas Winter Quarters, drawn 

by R. Haglund 350 

150. The Veija in Winter Quarters, drawn by ditto ..... 355 

151. The Winter Dress of the Vega men, drawn by Jungstedt . . , 358 

152. Cod from Pitlekaj (Gadus navaga, KLilreuter), drawn by M. Westergi'en 362 

153. Kautljkau, a Chukcli Girl from Irguunuk, drawn and engraA'ed by Miss 

Ida Falander .......... 366 

154. Chukches AngUng, drawn by 0. Siirliug ...... 370 

155. Ice-Sieve, drawn by ditto ......... 371 

156. Smelt from the Chukch Peninsula (Osmerics epcrlanus, Liii.), drawn 

by M. Westergi'en ......... 372 

157. AVassili Menka, drawn by 0. Sorling, engi-aved by Miss Ida Falander. 373 

158. Chukch Dog-Sledge, drawn by ditto 375 

159. Chukch Bone-carvings, drawn by 0. Sorling 382 

160. Hares from Chukch Land, drawn by M. Westergren .... 383 

161. The Observatory at Pitlekaj, drawn by R. Haglund .... 385 

162. An Evening in the Gun-room of the Vegco during the AVintering, 

drawn by ditto, engraved by R. Lindgren ..... 389 

163. Refraction Halo, drawn by ditto 391 

164. Reflection Halo, drawn by ditto ....... 392 

165. Section of the Beach Strata at Pitlekaj 393 

166. Christmas Eve on the Vega, drawn by V. Andr(?n .... 394 

167. The Open Water 397 

168. The Encampment Pitlekaj abandoned by its Inhabitants on the 18th 

Februarj', 1879 398 

169. Notti and his AVife Aitanga 401 

170. Map of the Region round the Vega's Winter Quarters . . . 407 

171. The Sleeping Chamber in a Chukch Tent 412 

172. Chukch Lamps 413 

173. Section of a Chukcli Lamp ........ 414 

174. Chukch Shaman Drum . - . . . . . . . .415 

175. The Coast between Padljonna and Enjurmi ..... 416 

176. Bracelet of Coi^per . . . . . . , . . .417 

177. The North End of Idlidlja Island 418 

178. The Common Aurora-Arc at the Vcga/s AVinter Quarters . . . 426 

179. Aurora at the Vegci's AVinter Quarters, 3rd March, 1879, at 9 p.m. . 427 

180. Double Aurora-Arcs seen 20th March, 1879, at 9.30 P.M. . . .427 

181. Elliptic Aurora seen 21st March, 1879, at 2.15 A. SI 427 

182. Elliptic Aurora seen 21st March, 1879, at 3 A.M. .... 427 

183. Song-Birds in the Rigging of the A'ega, June, 1879 .... 430 





Spoon-billed Sand-piper from Chukcli Land {Euryiiorhyncliux pyg- 
mceus, L.) . 

Marmots from Chukch Land 

StegocepJialios Kessleri, Stuxb. 

Sabinea septcmcarinaki, Sabine . 

AcanthosteiiMa Malmgreni, Goes 

OpMoglypha nodosa, Liitken 

Noah Elisej .... 

Beetles from Pitlekaj 

Phosphorescent Crustacea from Mussel Ray 

Eeitinacka ...... 

Dog-Fish from the Chukch Peninsula {DalUa dclicati 

Crab from the Sea North of Behring's Straits 
Kroyer) ..... 

Tree from Pitlekaj (Salix Arctica, Pallas) 

Typical Chukch Faces 

Plan of a Chukch Grave . 

Tent Frame at Pitlekaj 

Chukch Oar ..... 

Dog Shoe 

Chukch Face-Tattooing 

Chukch Children .... 

Snow- Shoes ..... 

An Aino-Man skating after a Reindeer 

Hunting Cup and Snow-scraper 

Chukch Weapons and Huntuig Lnplement 

Chukch Bow and Quiver . 

Chukch Arrows .... 

Stone Hammers and Anvil fqr Crushiug Bones 

Chukch Implements .... 

Fire- Drill 

Ice Mattocks ..... 
Human Figures ..... 
Musical Instruments 
Drawings made by Chukches 
Chukch Buckles and Hooks of Ivory . 
Chukch Bone Carvings 

Chukch Doll 

Cliukch Bone Carvings ... 
Chukch Bone Carvings of Birds . 
Map of the World, said to be of the Tenth 
Map of the World showing Asia to be continuous with Africa 
Llap of the World after Fra Mauro, from the middle of the Fifteeutl 
Century ....,.,..., 

issima. Smith) 



cetcx opilio, 






226. Map of Asia from au Atlas published by the Russian Academy of 

Sciences in 1737 .......... 533 

227. Peter Feodorovitsch Aujou . ........ 554 

228. Ferdinand .von AVrangel ......... 555 

229. Seal from the Behring Sea, Histriojihoca fasciata, Zimm . . . 563 

230. Braba Aljnna, L., from St. Lawrence Bay ...... 567 

23L Hunting Implements at Port Clarence 571 

232. Eskimo Family at Port Clarence • 572 

233. Eskimo at Port Clarence ......... 573 

234. Eskimo at Port Clarence ......... 574 

235. Eskimo Fishing Implements, &c. ....... 575 

236. Eskimo Bone Carvings, &c. ........ 578 

237. Eskimo Grave 579 

238. Animal Figure from an Eskimo Grave. ...... 580 

239. Ethnographical Objects from Port Clarence. ..... 581 

240. Shell from Behring's Straits, Fusus dcformis, Pieeve .... 582 

241. Diagram showing the temperature and depth of the water at Behring's 

Straits between Port Clarence and Senjavin Sound, by G. Bove . 583 

242. Konyam Bay 586 

243. Tattooing Patterns from St. Lawrence Island 588 

244. Tattooed Woman from St. Lawrence Island ..... 589 

245. The " Colony " on Behring Island . 594 

246. The " Colony " on Copper Island 595 

247. Natives of Behring Island ........ 597 

248. Skeleton ofPihytina, shown at the Vc(ja Exhibition at the Royal Palace, 

Stockholm .......... 607 

249. Original Drawings of the Rhytina ....... 607 

250. Reconstructed Form of the Sea-Cow ....... 609 

251. Sea Bears, Male, Female, and Young . . . . . .611 

252. "Seal Rookery" on St. Paul's Island, one of the Prihylov Islands . 613 

253. Slaughter of Sea-Bears 615 

254. Sea-Bears on their way to " the Rookeries " ..... 616 

255. Alga from the shore of Behring Island, T]ialassio2}hyllum Clcdhrus, 

Post, and Rupr 618 

256. Fusiyama 622 

257. The steamer A. E. Nordeiisklold stranded on the East Coast of Yezo . 624 

258. Kawamura Sumiyashi, Japanese Minister of Marine .... 625 

259. The Fh-st Medal which was struck as a Memorial of the Voyage of 

the Verja 628 

260. The Fu-st Medal which was struck as a i\Iemorial of the Voyage of 

the Vega ". .629 

261. Stone Lantern and Stone Monument in a Japanese Temple Court. . 632 

262. Japanese House in Tokio 633 

263. Japanese Lady at her Toilette 635 

264. A Jimikisha 636 

265. Japanese Bedroom .......... 638 



266. Tobacco-Smokers, Japanese Drawing .... 

267. Ito-Keske, a Japanese Editor of Thunberg's Writings 

268. Monument to Thunberg and Kaempfer at Nagasaki . 

269. Japanese Kago ........ 

270. Japanese Wrestlers ....... 

271. Japanese Bridge, after a Japanese drawing . 

272. Japanese Mountain Landscape, drawn by Prof. P. D. Hoi 

273. Inn at Kusatsu, drawn by R. Haglund 

274. Bath at Kusatsu, Japanese drawing, drawn by 0. Sorling 

275. Japanese Landscape, drawn by Prof. P. D. Holm 

276. Burden-bearers on a Japanese Road, Japanese drawing 

0. Sorling ........ 

277. Japanese Sliop, drawn by V. Andren. 

278. Japanese Court Dress, drawn by ditto 

279. Noble in Antique Dress, drawn by ditto 

280. Buddhist Priest, drawn by ditto .... 

281. A Samurai, drawn by ditto ..... 

282. Gate across the Road to a Sliinto Temple, drawn by Prof 

283. Buddhist Temple at Kobe, drawn by ditto . 

284. Rio-San's Seal . . . . . 

285. Burying-Place at Kioto, drawn by Prof. P. D. Holm . 

286. Entrance to Nagasaki, drawn by R. Haglund 

287. Fossil Plants from Mogi — 1, 2, Beech Leaves (Fagus fcrruginca. 

var. pliocima, Nath.), drawn by M. Westergren . 

288. Fossil Plant from Mogi — 3, Maple Leaf {Acer Mono, 

plioccna, Nath.) ....... 

289. Fossil Plant from Mogi — Leaf of Zdkova KcaJcii, Sieb., v. 

Nath., drawn by M. Westergren .... 

290. Gem Diggings at Ratuapoora, drawn by R. Haglund . 

291. Statues in a Temple in Ceylon, drawn by ditto . 

292. A Country Place in Ceylon, drawn by V. Andren 

293. Highland View from the Interior of Ceylon, drawn by R. H 

294. The Scientific Men of the Vega 

295. The Officers of the Vega 

296. The Crew of the Vega, drawn by R. Widing 

297. The Entrance of the Vega into Stockholm on the 24th 

drawn by R. Haglund ...... 

298. The Vega moored off the Royal Palace^ Stockholm, drawn by ditto 

drawn by 





. j)T- i'Occna,. 




The voyage, which it is my purpose to sketch in this book, 
owed its origin to two preceding expeditions from Sweden to the 
western part of the Siberian Polar Sea, in the course of which 
I reached the mouth of the Yenisej, the first time in 1875 in 
a walrus-hunting sloop, the Proeven, and the second time in 
1876 in a steamer, the Ymer. 

After my return from the latter voyage, I came to the conclu- 
sion, that, on the ground of the experience thereby gained, and 
of the knowledge which, under the light of that experience, it 
was possible to obtain from old, especially from Russian, explora- 
tions of the north coast of Asia, I was warranted in asserting 
that the open navigable water, which two years in succession 
had carried me across the Kara Sea, formerly of so bad repute, 
to the mouth of the Yenisej, extended in all probability as far 
as Behring's Straits, and that a circumnavigation of the old 
world was thus within the bounds of possibility. 

It was natural that I should endeavour to take advantage 
of the opportunity for making new and important discoveries 
which thus presented itself An opportunity had arisen for 
solving a geographical problem — the forcing a north-east passage 
to China and Japan — which for more than three hundred years 
had been a subject of competition between the world's fore- 
most commercial states and most daring navigators, and which, 



if we view it in the light of a circumnavigation of the old world, 
had, for thousands of years back, been an object of desire for 
geographers. I determined, therefore, at first to make use, for 
this purpose, of the funds which Mr. A. Sibiriakoff, after my 
return from the expedition of 1876, placed at my disposal for 
the continuation of researches in the Siberian Polar Sea. For 
a voyage of the extent now contemplated, this sum, however, 
was quite insufficient. On this account I turned to His Majesty 
the King of Sweden and Norway, with the inquiry whether any 
assistance in making preparations for the projected expedition 
might be reckoned upon from the public funds. King Oscar, 
who, already as Crown Prince, had given a large contribution 
to the Torell Expedition of 1861, immediately received my pro- 
posal with special warmth, and promised within a short time 
to invite the Swedish members of the Yenisej expeditions and 
others interested in our voyages of exploration in the north, to 
meet him for the purpose of consultation, asking me at the 
same time to be prepared against the meeting with a complete 
exposition of the reasons on which I grounded my views — 
differing so widely from the ideas commonly entertained — of 
the state of the ice in the sea off the north coast of Siberia. 

This assembly took place at the palace in Stockholm, on 
the 26th January, 1877, which may be considered the birth- 
day of the Vega Expedition, and was ushered in by a dinner, to 
which a large number of persons were invited, among whom were 
the members of the Swedish royal house that happened to be 
then in Stockholm ; Prince John OF Glucksburg ; Dr. Oscar 
DiCKSOX, the Gotheuburg merchant ; Baron F. W. voN Otter, 
Councillor of State and Minister of Marine, well known for his 
voyages in the Arctic waters in 1868 and 1871 ; Decent F. R. 
Kjellman, Dr. A. Stuxberg, the former a member of the expedi- 
tion which wintered at Mussel Bay in 1872-73, and of that which 
reached the Yenisej in 1875, the latter, of the Yenisej Expedi- 
tions of 1875 and 1876 ; and Docents Hjalmar Theel and A. N. 
LuNDSTROM, both members of the Yenisej Expedition of 1875. 

After dinner the programme of the contemplated voyage was 
laid before the meeting, almost in the form in which it after- 
wards appeared in print in several languages. There then arose 
a lively discussion, in the course of which reasons were advanced 
for and against the practicability of the plan. In particular the 
question concerning the state of the ice and the marine currents 
at Cape Chel3mskin gave occasion to an exhaustive discussion. 
It ended by His Majesty first of all declaring himself convinced 
of the practicability of the plaA of the voyage, and prepared 
not only as king, but also as a private individual, to give sub- 
stantial support to the enterprise. Dr. Oscar Dickson shared 
His Majesty's views, and promised to contribute to the not 

A.-""^'"^ lAlP fOirir 


inconsiderable expenditure which the new voyage of exploration 
would render necessary. This is the sixth expedition to the 
high north, the expenses of which have been defrayed to 
a greater or less extent by Dr. O. Dickson.^ He became 
the banker of the Vega Expedition, inasmuch as to a con- 
siderable extent he advanced the necessary funds, but after 
our return the expenses were equally divided between His 
Majesty the King of Sweden and Norway, Dr. Dickson, and 
Mr. Sibiriakoif. 

I very soon had the satisfaction of appointing, as superin- 
tendents of the botanical and zoological work of the expedition 
in this new Polar voyage, my old and tried friends from previous 
expeditions, Docents Dr. Kjellman and Dr. Stuxberg, observers 
so w'ell known in Arctic literature. At a later period, another 
member of the expedition that wintered on Spitzbergen in 
1872-73, Lieutenant (now Captain in the Swedish Navy) L. 
Palander, offered to accompany the new expedition as com- 
mander of the vessel — an offer which I gladly accepted, well 
knowing, as I did from previous voyages, Captain Palander's 
distinguished ability both as a seaman and an Arctic explorer. 
Further there joined the expedition Lieutenant GiACOMO BovE, 
of the Italian Navy ; Lieutenant A. Hovgaard, of the Danish 
Navy ; Medical candidate E. Almquist, as medical officer ; 
Lieutenant O. Nordquist, of the Russian Guards ; Lieutenant 
E. Brusewitz, of the Swedish Navy ; together with twenty-one 
men — petty officers and crew, according to a list which will be 
found further on. 

An expedition of such extent as that now projected, intended 
possibly to last two years, with a vessel of its own, a numerous 
well-paid personnel, and a considerable scientific staff, must of 
course be very costly. In order somewhat to diminish the 
expenses, I gave in, on the 25th August, 1877, a memorial to 
the Sw^edish Government with the prayer that the steamer Vega, 
which in the meantime had been purchased for the expedition, 
should be thoroughly overhauled and made completely sea- 
worthy at the naval dockyard at Karlskrona ; and that, as had 
been done in the case of the Arctic Expeditions of 1868 and 
1 872-73, certain grants of public money should be given to the 
officers and men of the Royal Swedish Navy, who might take 
part as volunteers in the projected expedition. With reference 
to this petition the Swedish Government was pleased, in terms 
of a letter of the Minister of Marine, dated the 81st December, 
1877, both to grant sea-pay, &c., to the officer and eighteen men 
of the Royal Navy, who might take part in the expedition in 

1 The expeditions to Spitzbergen in 1868, to Greenland in 1870, to 
Spitzbergen in 187-2-73, and to the Yenisej in 1875 and 1876 

B 2 



Longitadinal section. 

n r^ 

Plan of arrangement nnder deck. 

1. Powder magaziue. 

2. Instrument room. 

3. Sofa in gunroom. 

4. Cabin for Lieut. Brusewitz. 

5. Cabin for Lieuts. Bove and 


6. Pantry during winter. 

7. Corridor. 

S. Cabin for Dr. Stuxberg and 

Lieut. Nordquist. 
9. Gunroom. 

10. Table in gunroom. 

11. Cabin for Dr. Almquist. 

12. Cabin fur Dr. Kjcllman. 
1.3. Stove. 

11. Cabin for Capt. Palander. 

15. Cabin for Prof. Nordenskiold. 29. 

16. Corridor (descent to gunroom). 30. 

17. Coal bunkers. 

18. Boiler. 31. 

19. Storeroom 'tween decks. 32. 

20. Pilot's cabin. (built in 

21. Cabin for Lieut. Bove (Japan. 33. 

22. Cabin for two petty officers. 34. 

23. Petty officers' mess. 35. 

24. Cabin for carpenter's ) built 

effects. \ in 36. 

25. Cabin for collections, j Japan 37. 

26. Cabin for library. 38. 

27. Gunroom pantry. 39. 

28. Hatch to provision room. 40. 

Plan of upper deck 

Hatch to the cable-tier. 
Hatch to room set apart fur 

scientific purposes. 
Bunks for the crew — double 

Cable-tier and provision store. 
Hatch to store-room. 
Hatch to room for daily giving 

out of provisions. 
Hatch to rope-room. 

Storeroom for water and coal. 
Enirfne-room. a 

a. Thermometer case. 

h. The rudder. 

c. Binnacle with compass 

^ ■ \ Skylights to the gunroom. 

/. Mizenmast. 

</. Descent to the gunroom 1 companion common 

h. Descent to the engine J to both. 

i. Bridge. 

k. Funnel. 

I. Boats lying on gallows, 
n mast. 

n. Booms (for reserve masts, yards, &c.). 

o. Main hatch. 

p. Ste^m launch. 

q. Fore hntch. 

r. Hencoops. 

s. 'Water closet. 

t. Foremast. 

w. Smoke-cowl. 

V. Descent to lower deck (companion). 

X. Windlass. 

y. Capstan on the forecastle. 

t. Catheads. 


Longitadinal section 

Plan of arrangement nnder deck. 

a gPlK t 

Plan of upper deck. 



H B 





Water ballast tank. 



K, F 

Coal bunkers. 


Fireman's cabin. 


Engineer's cabin. 




Captain's cabin. 


Mate's cabin. 










Engine-room companicm. 




Hatch to hold. 


Descent to provision-room. 




Descent to engine-mom. 


Descent to forecastle and engineer's cabin 


Descent to captain's cabin, saloon, 4:c. 


question, and at the same time to resolve on making a proposal 
to the Diet in which additional grants were to be asked for it. 

The proposal to the Diet of 1878 was agreed to with that 
liberality which has always distinguished the representatives 
of the Swedish people when grants for scientific purposes have 
been asked for ; which was also the case with a private motion 
made in the same Diet by the President, C. F. W^RN, member 
of the Academy of Sciences, whereby it was proposed to 
confer some further privileges on the undertaking. 

It is impossible here to give at length the decision of the 
Diet, and the correspondence which was exchanged with the 
authorities with reference to it. But I am under an obligation 
(jf gratitude to refer to the exceedingly pleasant reception I 
met with everywhere, in the course of these negotiations, . 
from officials of all ranks, and to give a brief account of 
the privileges which the expedition finally came to enjoy, 
mainly owing to the letter of the Government to the Marine 
Department, dated the 14th June, 1878. 

Two officers and seventeen men of the Royal Swedish 
Navy having obtained permission to take part in the ex- 
pedition as volunteers, I was authorised to receive on account 
of the expedition from the treasury of the Navy, at Karls- 
krona — with the obligation of returning that portion of the 
funds which might not be required, and on giving approved 
security — full sea pay for two years for the officers, petty 
officers, and men taking part in the expedition ; pay for the 
medical officer, at the rate of 3,500 Swedish crowns a year, 
for the same time ; and subsistence money for the men belong- 
ing to the Navy, at the rate of one and a half Swedish crowns 
per man per day. The sum, by which the cost of provisions 
exceeded the amount calculated at this rate, was defrayed by 
the expedition, which likewise gave a considerable addition 
to the pay of the sailors belonging to the Navy. I further 
obtained permission to receive, on account of the expedition, 
from the Navy stores at Karlskrona, provisions, medicines, 
coal, oil, and other necessary equipment, under obligation to 
pay for any excess of value over 10,000 Swedish crowns (about 
550/.) ; and finally the vessel of the expedition was permitted 
to be equipped and made completely seaworthy at the naval 
dockyard at Karlskrona, on condition, however, that the excess 
of expenditure on repairs over 25,000 crowns (about 1,375/.) 
should be defrayed by the expedition. 

On the other hand my request that the Vega, the steamer 
purchased for the voyage, might be permitted to carry the 
man-of-war fiag, was refused by the Minister of Marine in 
a letter of the 2nd February 1878. The Vega was therefore 
inscribed in the followincf month of March in the Swedish 


Yacht Club. It was thus under its flag, the Sivedisk nuoi- 
of-war fiag with a crowned in the oiiiddle. that the flrst 
circumnavigation of Asia and Europe was carried into effect. 

The Vtya, as will be seen from the description quoted further 
i»n, is a pretty large vessel, which during the first part of 
the voyage was to be heavily laden with provisions and coal. 
It would therefore be a work of some difficulty to get it afloat, 
if, in sailing forwaid along the coast in new, unsurveyed waters, 
it should run upon a bank of clay or sand. I therefore gladly 
availed myself of Mr. Sibiriakoff's offer to provide for the 
greater safety of the expedition, by placing at my disposal 
founds for building another steamer of a smaller size, the Lena, 
which should have the river Lena as its main destination, but, 
during the first part of the expedition, should act as tender to 
the Vega, being sent before to examine the state of the ice 
and the navigable waters, when such service might be useful. 
I had the Lena built at Motala, of Swedish Bessemer steel, 
mainly after a drawing of Engineer R. Kuneberg of Finland. 
The steamer answ^ered the purpose for which it was intended 
particularly well. 

An unexpected opportunity of providing the steamers with 
coal during the course of the voyage besides arose by my 
receiving a commission, while preparations were making for 
the expedition of the Vega, to fit out, also on Mr. Sibiriakoff's 
account, two other vessels, the steamer Frase?', and the sailing 
vessel Erpress, in order to bring to Europe from the mouth 
of the Yenisej a cargo of grain, and to carry thither a quantity 
of European goods. This was so much the more advantageous, 
as, according to the plan of the expedition, the Vega and the 
Lena were first to separate from the Fraser and the Ejypress at 
the mouth of the Yenisej. The first-named vessels had thus 
an opportunity of taking on board at that place as much coal 
as there was room for. 

I intend further on to give an account of the voyages of 
the other three vessels, each of which deserves a place in 
the history of navigation. To avoid details I shall only 
mention here that, at the beginrjing of the voyage which 
is to be described here, the following four vessels were at my 
disposal : — 

1. The Vega, commanded by Lieutenant L. Palander, of the 
Swedisli Navy ; circumnavigated Asia and Europe. 

'1. The Lena, commanded by the walrus-hunting captain, 
Christian Johannesen ; the first vessel that reached the river 
Lena from the Atlantic. 

'■^. The Fraser, commanded by the merchant captain, Emil 

4. The Ej:press, commanded by the merchant captain, 


Gundersen, the first which brouojht carfjoes of grain from t'ae 

o o o 

Yenisei to Europe.^ 

When the Ver/a was bought for the expedition it was de- 
scribed by the sellers as follows : — 

"The steamer Vega was built at Bremerhaven in 1872-73, 
of the best oak, for the share-company ' Ishafvet,' and under 
special inspection. It has twelve years' first class ^s I-I- Veritas, 
measures 357 register tons gross, or 299 net. It was built and 
used for whale-fishing in the North Polar Sea, and strengthened 
in every way necessary and commonly used for that purpose. 
Besides the usual timbering of oak, the vessel has an ice-skin 
of greenheart, wherever the ice may be expected to come at 
the vessel. The ice-skin extends from the neighbourhood of 
the under chain bolts to within from 1"2 to 1'5 metres of the 
keel. The dimensions are : — 

Length of keel ... 37'6 metres. 

Do. over deck 43'4 ,, 

Beam extreme 8'4 ,, 

Depth of hold 4'6 „ 

"The engine, of sixty horse-power, is on Wolff's plan, with 
excellent surface condensers. It requires about ten cubic feet 
of coal per hour. The vessel is fully rigged as a barque, and 
has pitch pine masts, iron wire rigging, and patent reefing 
topsails. It sails and manceuvres uncommonly well, and under 
sail alone attains a speed of nine to ten knots. During the 
trial trip the steamer made seven and a half knots, but six 
to seven knots per hour may be considered the speed under 
steam. Further, there are on the vessel a powerful steam- 
winch, a reserve rudder, and a reserve propeller. The vessel 
is besides provided in the whole of the under hold with iron 
tanks, so built that they lie close to the vessel's bottom and 
sides, the tanks thus being capable of offering a powerful 
resistance in case of ice pressure. They are also serviceable 
for holding provisions, water, and coal."^ 

We had no reason to take exception to this description,^ 
but, in any case, it was necessary for an Arctic campaign, such 
as that now in question, to make a further inspection of the 

^ The first cargo of goods from Europe to tlie Yenisej was taken thitlier 
by me in the Fmer in 1876. The first vessel that sailed from the Yenisej 
to the Atlantic was a sloop, The Daivn, built at Yeniseisk, commanded by 
the Russian merchant captain, Schwanenberg, in 1877. 

■•^ In order to obtain sufficient room for coal and provisions most of these 
tanks were taken out at Karlskrona. 

^ The consumption of coal, however, was reckoned by Captain Palander 
at twelve cubic feet or 3 cubic metre an hour, with a speed of seven 


vessel, to assure ourselves that all its parts were in complete 
order, to make the alterations in rig, &c., which the altered 
requirements would render necessary, and finally to arrange 
the vessel, so that it might house a scientific staff, which, 
together with the officers, numbered nine persons. This work 
was done at the Karlskrona naval dockyard, under the direction 
of Captain Palander. At the same time attention was given 
to the scientific equipment, principally in Stockholm, where a 
large number of instruments for physical, astronomical, and 
geological researches was obtained from the Royal Academy 
of Sciences. 

The dietary during the expedition was fixed upon, partly 
on the ground of our experience from the wintering of 1872- 
73, partly under the guidance of a special opinion given with 
reference to the subject by the distinguished physician who 
took part in that expedition. Dr. A. Envall. Preserved pro- 
visions,^ butter, flour, &c., were purchased, part at Karlskrona, 
part in Stockholm and Copenhagen ; a portion of peramican 
was prepared in Stockholm by Z. Wikstrom ; another portion 
was purchased in England ; fresh ripe potatoes ^ were procured 
from the Mediterranean, a large quantity of cranberry juice 
from Finland ; preserved cloudben'ies and clothes of reindeer 
skins, &c., from Norway, through our agent Ebeltoft, and so on 
— in a word, nothingf was neo^lected to make the vessel as well 
equipped as possible for the attainment of the great object 
in view. 

What this was may be seen from the following 


NORWAY, Jull/ 1877. 

The exploring expeditions, which, during the recent decades, 
have gone out from Sweden towards the north, have long ago 
acquired a truly national importance, through the lively interest 
that has been taken in them everywhere, beyond, as well as 
within, the fatherland ; through the considerable sums of money 
that have been spent on them by the State, and above all by 
private persons ; through the practical school they have formed 
for more than thirty Swedish naturalists ; through the important 

^ Tlie preserved provisions were purchased part from Z. Wikstrom of 
Stock liol 111, part from J. D. Beauvois of Copenliagen. 

- The potatoes were to be delivered at Gotlienburg on the 1st July. In 
order to keep, they had to be newly taken up and yet rijje. They were 
therefore procured from the south through Air. Carl W. Boman of Stock- 
holm. Of these, certainly one of the best of all anti-scorbutics, we had 
still some remaining on our arrival at Japan. 


scientific and geographical results they have yielded; and through 
the material for scientific research, which by them has been 
collected for the Swedish Riks-Museum, and which has made it, 
in respect of Arctic natural objects, the richest in the world. 
To tliis there come to be added discoveries and investigations 
which already are, or promise in the future to become, of 
practical importance ; for example, the meteorological and hydro- 
graphical work of the expeditions ; their comprehensive inquiries 
regarding the Seal and Whale Fisheries in the Polar Seas ; the 
pointing out of the previously unsuspected richness in fish, of 
the coasts of Spitzbergen ; the discoveries, on Bear Island and 
Spitzbergen, of considerable strata of coal and phosphatic 
minerals which are likely to be of great economic importance 
to neighbouring countries ; and, above all, the success of the two 
last expeditions in reaching the mouths of the large Siberian 
rivers, navigable to the confines of China — the Obi and Yenisej 
— whereby a problem in navigation, many centuries old, has at 
last been solved. 

But the very results that have been obtained incite to a 
continuation, especially as the two last expeditions have opened 
a new field of inquiry, exceedingly promising in a scientific, and 
I venture also to say in a practical, point of view, namely, the 
part of the Polar Sea lying east of the mouth of the Yenisej. 
Still, even in our days, in the era of steam and the telegraph, there 
meets us here a territory to be explored, which is new to science, 
and hitherto untouched. Indeed, the whole of the immense 
expanse of ocean Avhich stretches over 90 degrees of longitude 
from the mouth of the Yenisej past Cape Chelyuskin — the 
Promontorium Tabin of the old geographers — has, if we except 
voyages in large or small boats along the coast, never yet been 
})loughed by tlie keel of any vessel, and never seen the funnel 
of a steamer. 

It was this state of things which led me to attempt to procure 
funds for an expedition, equipped as completely as possible, 
both in a scientific and a nautical respect, with a view to 
investigate the geography, hydrography, and natural history 
of the North Polar Sea beyond the mouth of the Yenisej, if 
possible as far as Behring's Straits. It may be afiirmed without 
any danger of exaggeration, that since Cook's famous voyages 
in the Pacific Ocean, no more promising field of research has 
lain before any exploring expedition, if only the state of the 
ice permit a suitable steamer to force a passage in that sea. In 
order to form a judgment on this point, it may perhaps be 
necessary to cast a brief glance backwards over the attempts 
which have been made to penetrate in the direction which the 
projected expedition is intended to take. 

The Swedish port from which the expedition is to start will 



probably be Gothenburg. The time of departure is fixed for 
the beginning of July, 1878. The course will be shaped at first 
along the west coast of Norway, past North Cape and the 
entrance to the White Sea, to Matotschkin Sound in Novaya 

The opening of a communication by sea between the rest 
of Europe and these regions, by Sir Hugh Willoughby and 
Richard Chancelor in 1553, was the fruit of the first exploring 
expedition sent out from England by sea. Their voyage also 
forms the first attempt to discover a north-east passage to 
China. The object aimed at was not indeed accomplished ; but 
on the other hand, there was opened by the voyage in question 
the sea communication between England and the White Sea; 
the voyage thus forming a turning-point not only in the 
navigation of England and Russia, but also in the com- 
merce of the world. It also demanded its sacrifice. Sir Hugh 
Willoughby himself, with all the men in the vessels under 
his command, having perished w^hile wintering on the Kola 
peninsula. In our days thousands of vessels sail safely along 
this route. 

With the knowledge we now jDossess of the state of the ice 
in the Murman Sea — so the sea between Kola and Novaya 
Zemlya is called on the old maps — it is possible to sail during 
the latter part of summer from the White Sea to Matotschkin 
without needing to fear the least hindrance from ice. For 
several decades back, however, in consequence of want of 
knowledge of the proper season and the proper course, the 
case has been quite different — as is sufficiently evident from 
the account of the difficulties and dangers which the renowned 
Russian navigator, Count Llitke, met with during his repeated 
voyages four summers in succession (1821-1824) along the west 
coast of Novaya Zemlya. A skilful walrus-hunter can now, with a 
common walrus-hunting vessel, in a single summer, sail further 
in this sea than formerly could an expedition, fitted out with 
all the resources of a naval yard, in four times as long time. 

There are four ways of passing from the Murman Sea to 
the Kara Sea, viz : — 

a. Yugor Sound — the Fretum Nassovicum of the old Dutch- 
men — between Vaygats Island and the mainland. 

h. The Kara Port, between Vaygats Island and Novaya 

c. Matotschkin Sound, which between 73° and 74° N. Lat. 
divides Novaya Zemlya into two parts, and finally, 

d. The course north of the double island. The course past 
the northernmost point of Novaya Zemlya is not commonly 
clear of ice till the beginning of the month of Sei^tember, 
and perhaps ought, therefore, not to be chosen for an expedition 


having for its object to penetrate far to the eastward in this 
sea. Yugor Sound and the Kara Port are early free of fast 
ice, but instead, are long rendered difficult to navigate by con- 
siderable masses of drift ice, which are carried backwards and 
forwards in the bays on both sides of the sound by the cur- 
rents which here alternate with the ebb and flow of the tide. 
Besides, at least in Yugor Sound, there are no good harbours, 
in consequence of which the drifting masses of ice may greatly 
inconvenience the vessels, which by these routes attempt to 
enter the Kara Sea. Matotschkin Sound, again, forms a 
channel nearly 100 kilometres long, deep and clear, with the 
exception of a couple of shoals, the position of which is known, 
which indeed is not usually free from fast ice until the latter 
half of July, but, on the other hand, in consequence of the 
configuration of the coast, is less subject to be obstructed by 
drift ice than the southern straits. There are good harbours 
at the eastern mouth of the sound. In 1875 and 187G both 
the sound and the sea lying off it were completely open in 
the end of August, but the ice was much earlier broken up 
also on the eastern side, so that a vessel could without 
danger make its way among the scattered pieces of drift ice. 
The part of Novaya Zemlya which is first visited by the 
walrus-hunters in spring is usually just the west coast off 

In case unusual weather does not prevail in the regions 
in question during the course of early and mid-summer, 1878 — 
for instance, very steady southerly winds, which would early 
drive the drift ice away from the coast of the mainland — I 
consider, on the grounds which I have stated above, that it 
will be safest for the expedition to choose the course by 
Matotschkin Sound. 

We cannot, however, reckon on having, so early as the begin- 
ning of August, open water direct to Port Dickson at the 
mouth of the Yenisej, but must be prepared to make a con- 
siderable detour towards the south in order to avoid the masses 
of drift ice, which are to be met with in the Kara Sea up to the 
beginning of September. The few days' delay which may be 
caused by the state of the ice here, will afford, besides, to the 
expedition an opportunity for valuable work in examining the 
natural history and hydrography of the channel, about 200 
fathoms deep, which runs along the east coast of Novaya 
Zemlya. The Kara Sea is, in the other parts of it, not deep, but 
evenly shallow (ten to thirty fathoms), yet without being fouled 
by shoals or rocks. The most abundant animal life is found in 
the before-mentioned deep channel along the east coast, and 
it was from it that our two foregoing expeditions brought 
home several animal types, very peculiar and interesting in a 


systematic point of view. Near the coast the algae, too, are 
rich and luxuriant. The coming expedition ought, therefore, 
to endeavour to reach Matotschkin Sound so early that 
at least seven days' scientific work may be done in those 

The voyage from the Kara Sea to Port Dickson is not at- 
tended, according to recent experience, with any difficulty. 
Yet we cannot reckon on arriving at Port Dickson sooner than 
from the 10th to the 15th August. In 1875 I reached this 
harbour with a sailing-vessel on the 15th August, after having 
been much delayed by calms in the Kara Sea. With a steamer 
it would have been possible to have reached the harbour, that 
year, in the beginning of the month. In 1876 the state of the 
ice was less favourable, in consequence of a cold summer and a 
prevalence of north-east winds, but even then I arrived at 
the mouth of the Yenisej on the 15th August. 

It is my intention to lie to at Port Dickson, at least for some 
hours, in order to deposit letters on one of the neighbouring 
islands, in case, as is probable, I have no opportunity of meeting 
there some vessel sent out from Yeniseisk, by which accounts 
of the expedition may be sent home. 

Actual observations regarding the hydrography of the coast 
between the mouth of the Yenisej and Cape Chelyuskin are 
for the present nearly wholly wanting, seeing that, as I have 
already stated, no large vessel has ever sailed from this neigh- 
bourhood. Even about the boat voyages of the Russians along 
the coast we know exceedingly little, and from their unsuccessful 
attempts to force a passage here we may by no means draw any 
unfavourable conclusion as to the navigability of the sea during 
certain seasons of the year. If, with a knowledge of the resources 
for the equipment of naval expeditions which Siberia now 
possesses, we seek to form an idea of the equipment of the 
Russian expeditions^ sent out with extraordinary perseverance 
during the years 1734-1743 by different routes to the north 
coast of Siberia, the correctness of this assertion ought to be 
easily perceived. There is good reason to expect that a well- 
equipped steamer will be able to penetrate far beyond the point 
where they were compelled to return with their small but 
numerously manned craft, too fragile to encounter ice, and un- 
suitable for the open sea, being generally held together with 

^ A rarefully written account of these voj'ages will be found in Reise 
des Kaiserlich-russischen Flatten- Lieutenants Ferdinaml von Wrangel Idngs 
der Nordlcuiite von Siherien und auf dem Eismeere, 1820-1824, bearbeitet 
Ton G. En,a:elliardt, Berlin, 1839 ; and G. P. Miiller, Voyages et Decouvertes 
faites par les Musses le long des Cotes de la Mer Glaciate, &c. Amsterdam : 


There are, besides these, only three sea voyages, or perhaps 
more correctly coast journeys, known in this part of the Kara 
Sea, all under the leadership of the mates Minin and Sterlegoff. 
The first attempt was made in 1738 in a "double sloop," 70 feet 
long, 17 broad, and 7^ deep, built at Tobolsk and transported 
thence to the Yenisej by Lieutenant Owzyn. With this vessel 
Minin penetrated off the Yenisej to 72° 53' N. L. Hence a jolly 
boat was sent further towards the north, but it too was com- 
pelled, by want of provisions, to return before the point named 
by me, Port Dickson, was reached. The following year a new 
attempt was made, without a greater distance being traversed 
than the summer before. Finally in the year 1740 the Russians 
succeeded in reaching, with the double sloop already mentioned, 
75° 15' N. L., after having survived great dangers from a heavy 
sea at the river mouth. On the 2nd September, just as the 
most advantageous season for navigation in these waters had 
begun, they returned, principally on account of the lateness of 
the season. 

There are, besides, two statements founded on actual observa- 
tions regarding the state of the ice on this coast. For Midden- 
dorff, the Academician, during his famous journey of exploration 
in North Siberia, reached from land the sea coast at Tajmur Bay 
(75° 40' N. L.), and fo7md the sea on the 25th August, 1843, /rce 
of ice as far as the eye could reach from the chain of heights along 
the coast} Middendorff, besides, states that the Yakoot Fomin, 
the only person who had passed a winter at Tajmur Bay, declared 
that the ice loosens in the sea lying off it in the first half of 
August, and that it is driven away from the beach by southerly 
winds, yet not further than that the edge of the ice can be 
seen from the heights along the coast. 

The land between the Tajmur and Cape Chelyuskin was 
mapped by means of sledge journeys along the coast by mate 
Chelyuskin in the year 1742. It is now completely established 
that the northernmost promontory of Asia was discovered by 
him in the month of May in the year already mentioned, 
and at that time the sea in its neighbourhood was of course 
covered with ice. We have no observation as to the state of 
the ice during summer or autnmn in the sea lying imme- 
diately to the west of Cape Chelyuskin ; but, as the question 
relates to the possibility of navigating this sea, this is the 
place to draw attention to the fact that Prontschischev, on 
the 1st September, 1736, in an open sea, with coasting craft 
from the east, very nearly reached the north point of Asia, 
which is supposed to be situated in 77° 34' N. Lat. and 

^ Th. von WiAAenAorS, Reise indem aussersten Nordenund Osten Siheriens, 
vol. iv. I., pages 21 and 508 (1867). 


105' E. Long., and tliat the Norwegian walrus-hunters during 
late autumn have repeatedly sailed far to the eastward from 
the north point of Novaya Zemlya (77^ N. Lat., and 68° E. 
Long.), vHthout medbig loith any ice. 

From what has been already stated, it is evident that for the 
present "we do not possess any complete knovvledge, founded on 
actual observations, of the hydrography of the stretch of coast 
between the Yenisej and Cape Chelyuskin. I, however, consider 
that during September, and possibly the latter half of August, 
we ought to be able to reckon with complete certainty on having 
here ice-free water, or at least a broad, open channel along the 
coast, from the enormous masses of warm water, which the rivers 
Obi, Irtisch, and Yenisej, running up through the steppes of High 
Asia, here pour into the ocean, after having received water from 
a river territory, everywhere strongly heated during the month 
of August, and more extensive than that of all the rivers put 
together, which fall into the Mediterranean and the Black 

Between Port Dickson and White Island, there runs therefore 
a strong fresh- water current, at first in a northerly direction. 
The influence which the rotation of the earth exercises, in these 
high latitudes, on streams which run approximately in the 
direction of the meridian, is, however, very considerable, and 
gives to those coming from the south an easterly bend. In 
consequence of this, the river water of the Obi and Yenisej 
must be confined as in a proper river channel, at first along 
the coast of the Tajmur country, until the current is allowed 
beyond Cape Chelyuskin to flow unhindered towards the 
north-east or east. Near the mouths of the large rivers I 
have, during calm weather in this current, in about 74° 
N. L., observed the temperature rising off the Yenisej to 
+ 9-4° C. (17th August, 1875), and off the Obi to+8°C. 
(10th August of the same year). As is usually the case, this 
current coming from the south produces both a cold under- 
current, which in stormy weather readily mixes with the surface 
water and cools it, and on the surface a northerly cold ice- 
bestrewn counter-current, which, in consequence of the earth's 
rotation, takes a bend to the west, and which evidently runs 
from the opening between Cape Chelyuskin and the northern 
extremity of Novaya Zemlya, towards the east side of this 
island, and perhaps may be the cause why the large masses of 
drift ice are pressed during summer against the east coast of 
Novaya Zemlya. According to my own experience and the 
uniform testimony of the walrus-hunters, this ice melts away 
abnost comiJletely during autumn. 

In order to judge of the distance at which the current coming 
from the Obi and the Yenisej can drive away the drift ice, we 


ought to remember that even a very weak current exerts an 
influence on the position of the ice, and that, for instance, the 
current from the Plata River, whose volume of water, however, 
is not perhaps so great as that of the Obi and Yenisej, is still 
clearly perceptible at a distance of 1,500 kilometres from the 
river mouth, that is to say, about three times as far as from 
Port Dickson to Cape Chelyuskin. The only bay which can be 
compared to the Kara Sea in respect of the area, which is 
intersected by the rivers running into it, is the Gulf of Mexico.^ 
The river currents from this bay appear to contribute greatly 
to the Gulf Stream. 

The winds which, during the autumn months, often blow in 
these regions from the north-east, perhaps also, in some degree, 
contribute to keep a broad channel, along the coast in question, 
nearly ice-free. 

The knowledge we possess regarding the navigable water 
to the east of Cape Chelyuskin towards the Lena, is mainly 
founded on the observations of the expeditions which were sent 
out by the Russian Government, before the middle of last 
century, to survey the northern part of Asia. In order to form 
a correct judgment of the results obtained, we must, while 
fully recognising the great courage, the extraordinary per- 
severance, and the power of bearing sufferings and overcoming 
difficulties of all kinds, which have always distinguished the 
Russian Polar explorers, always keep in mind that the voyages 
were carried out with small sailing-vessels of a build, which, 
according to modern requirements, is quite unsuitable for vessels 
intended for the open sea, and altogether too weak to stand 
collision with ice. They wanted, besides, not only the powerful 
auxiliary of our time, steam, but also a proper sail rig, fitted 
for actual manoeuvring, and were for the most part manned 
with crews' from the banks of the Siberian rivers, who never 
before had seen the water of the ocean, experienced a high 
sea, or tried sailing among sea ice. When the requisite 
attention is given to these circumstances, it appears to me 
that the voyages referred to below show positively that even 
here we ought to be able during autumn to reckon upon a 
navigable sea. 

The expeditions along the coast, east of Cape Chelyuskin, 
started from the town Yakoutsk, on the bank of the Lena, in 
62° N. L., upwards of 900 miles from the mouth of the river. 
Here also were built the vessels which were used for these 

^ Compare von Middendorff, Reise im Norden u. Osten Siberiens (1848), 
part i., page 69, and a paper by von Baer, Ueber das Klinia des Tajmur- 


The first started in 1735, under the command of Marine- 
Lieutenant Prontschischev. After having sailed down tlie river, 
and passed, on the 14th August, the eastern mouth-arm of the 
Lena, he sailed round the large delta of the river. On the 7tli 
September he had not got farther than to the mouth of the 
Olonek. Three weeks had thus been spent in sailing a distance 
which an ordinary steamer ought now to be able to traverse in 
one day. Ice was seen, but not encountered. On the other 
hand, the voyage was delayed by contrary winds, probably blow- 
ing on land, whereby Prontschischev's vessel, if it had in- 
cautiously ventured out, would probably have been cast on 
the beach. The late season of the year induced Pjontschischev 
to lay up his vessel for the winter here, at some summer yourts 
built by fur-hunters in 72° 54' N. L. The winter passed 
happily, and the following year (1736) Prontschischev again 
broke up, as soon as the state of the ice in Olonek Bay per- 
mitted, which, however, was not until the 15th August. The 
course was shaped along the coast toward the north-west. Here 
drift ice was met with, but he nevertheless made rapid pro- 
gress, so that on the 1st September he reached 77° 29' N. L., 
as we now know, in the neighbourhood of Cape Chelyuskin. 
Compact masses of ice compelled him to turn here, and the 
Russians sailed back to the mouth of the Olonek, w^hich was 
reached on the 15th September. The distinguished commander 
of the vessel had died shortly before of scurvy, and, some days 
after, his young wife, who had accompanied him on his difficult 
voyage, also died. As these attacks of scurvy did not happen 
during winter, but immediately after the close of summer, they 
form very remarkable contributions to a judgment of the way in 
which the Arctic expeditions of that period were fitted out. 

A new expedition, under Marine-Lieutenant Chariton Laptev, 
sailed along the same coast in 1739. The Lena was left on the 
1st August, and Cape Thaddeus (76° -47' N. L.) reached on the 
2nd September, the navigation having been obstructed by drift 
ice only off Chatanga Bay. Cape Thaddeus is situated only 
fifty or sixty English miles from Cape Chelyuskin. They turned 
here, partly on account of the masses of drift ice which barred 
the way, partly on account of the late season of the year, and 
wintered at the head of Chatanga Bay, which was reached on the 
8th September, Next year Laptev attempted to return along 
the coast to the Lena, but his vessel was nipped by drift ice 
off the mouth of the Olonek. After many difficulties and 
dangers, all the men succeeded in reaching safely the winter 
quarters of the former year. Both from this point and from 
the Yenisej, Laptev himself and his second in command, Chel- 
yuskin, and the surveyor, Tschekin, the following year made a 
number of sledge journeys, in order to survey the peniusuia whicli 
projects farthest to the north-west from the mainland of Asia. 


With this ended the voyages west of the Lena. The northern- 
most point of Asia, which was reached from land in 1742 by 
Chelyuskin, one of the most energetic members of most of the 
expeditions which we have enumerated, could not be reached 
by sea, and still less had any one succeeded in forcing his way 
with a vessel from the Lena to the Yenisej. Prontschischev had, 
however, turned on the 1st September, 1736, only some few 
minutes, and Laptev on the 2nd September, 1739, only about 50' 
from the point named, after voyages in vessels, which clearly 
were altogether unsuitable for the purpose in view. Among 
the difficulties and obstacles which were met with during 
these voyages, not only ice, but also unfavourable and stormy 
winds played a prominent part. From fear of not being able to 
reach any winter station visited by natives, the explorers often 
turned at that season of the year when the Polar Sea is most 
open. With proper allowance for these circumstances, we may 
safely affirm that no serious obstacles to sailing round Cape 
Chelyuskin would probably have been met with in the years 
named, by any steamer properly fitted out for sailing among ice. 

From the sea between the Lena and Behring's Straits there 
are much more numerous and complete observations than from 
that further west. The liope of obtaining tribute and commercial 
profit from the wild races living along the coast tempted the 
adventurous Russian hunters, even before the middle of the 1 7th 
century, to undertake a number of voyages along the coast. On 
a map which is annexed to the previously quoted work of Miiller, 
founded mainly on researches in the Siberian archives, there 
is to be found a sea route pricked out with the inscrijjtion, " Route 
anciennement fort frdquenUe. Voyage fait par mer en 1648 par 
trois vaisseaux russes, dent un est piarvenu jusqit a la Kamschatka." ^ 

Unfortunately the details of most of these voyages have been 
completely forgotten ; and, that we have obtained some scanty 
accounts of one or other of them, has nearly always depended 
on some remarkable catastrophe, on lawsuits or other circum- 
stances which led to the interference of the authorities. This 
is even the case with the most famous of these voyages, that 
of the Cossack, Deschnev, of which several accounts have been 
preserved, only through a dispute which arose between him and 
one of his companions, concerning the right of discovery to a 
walrus bank on the east coast of Kamschatka. This voyage, 
however, w^as a veritable exploring expedition undertaken with 
the approval of the Government, partly for the discovery of some 
large islands in the Polar Sea, about which a number of rej)orts 

^ The map bears the title, " Noiivplle carte des decouvertes faites par des 
vaisseaux Rtissiens, etc., dress^e sur des memoires authentiquea de ceiix 
qui ont assiste a ces decouvertes, at surd'autres connais.sances dont on rend 
raison dins iin m^moire separe. St. Petersbourg a TAcademie Imperials 
des Sciences, 1758." 


were current among the hunters and natives, partly for extend- 
ing the territory yielding tribute to the Russians, over the yet 
unknown regions in the north-east. 

Deschnev started on the 1st July, 1648, from the Kolyma in 
command of one of the seven vessels {Kotscher)} manned with 
thirty men, of which the expedition consisted. Concerning the 
fate of four of these vessels we have no information. It is 
probable that they turned back, and were not lost, as several 
writers have supposed ; three, under the command of the 
Cossacks, Deschnev and Ankudinov, and the fur-hunter, Kolmo- 
gorsov, succeeding in reaching Chutskojnos through what appears 
to have been open water. Here Ankudinov's vessel was ship- 
Avrecked ; the men, however, were saved and divided among 
the other two, which were speedily separated. Deschnev con- 
tinued his voyage along the east coast of Kamschatka to the 
Anadir, which was reached in October. Ankudinov is also 
supposed to have reached the mouth of the Kamschatka River, 
where he settled among the natives and finally died of scurvy. 

The year following (1649) Staduchin sailed again, for seven 
days, eastward from the Kolyma to the neighbourhood of 
Chutskojnos, in an open sea, so far as we can gather from the 
defective account. Deschnev's own opinion of the possibility 
of navigating this sea may be seen from the fact, that, after 
his own vessel was lost, he had timber collected at the Anadir 
for the purpose of building new ones. With these he intended 
to send to Yakoutsk the tribute of furs which he had received 
from the natives. He was, however, obliged to desist from his 
project by an easily understood want of materials for the build- 
ing of the new vessels ; he remarks also in connection with this 
that the sea round Chutskojnos is not free of ice every year. 

A number of voyages from the Siberian rivers northward, were 
also made after the founding of Nischni Kolymsk, by Michael 
Staduschin in 1644, in consequence of the reports which were 
current among the natives at the coast, of the existence of large 
inhabited islands, rich in walrus tusks and mammoth bones, 
in the Siberian Polar Sea. Often disputed, but persistently taken 
up by the hunting races, these reports have finally been verified 
by the discovery of the islands of New Siberia, of Wrangel's 
Land, and of the part of North America east of Behring's Straits, 
whose natural state gave occasion to the golden glamour of 
tradition with which the belief of the common people in- 
currertly adorned the bleak, treeless islands in the Polar Sea. 

All these attempts to force a passage in the open sea from the 
Siberian coasts northwards, failed, for the single reason, that an 

^ Pretty broad, flat-bottomed, keelless vessels, 12 fathoms lonj?, gene- 
rall moved forward by rowing : sail only used with fair wiiid {Wrangels 
Beite, p. 4). 

c 2 


open sea with a fresh breeze was as destructive to the craft 
which were at the disposal of the adventurous, but ill-equipped 
Siberian polar explorer as an ice-filled sea; indeed, more dangerous, 
for in the latter case the crew, if the vessel was nipped, generally 
saved themselves on the ice, and had only to contend with 
hunger, snow, cold, and other difficulties to which the most 
of them had been accustomed from their childhood ; but in the 
open sea the ill-built, weak vessel, caulked with moss mixed 
with clay, and held together with willows, leaked already with 
a moderate sea, and with a heavier, was helplessly lost, if a 
harbour could not be reached in time of need. 

The explorers soon preferred to reach the islands by sledge 
journeys on the ice, and thus at last discovered the whole of the 
large group of islands which is named New Siberia. The islands 
were often visited by hunters for the purpose of collecting mam- 
moth tusks, of which great masses, together with the bones 
of the mammoth, rhinoceros, sheep, ox, horse, etc., are found 
Imbedded in the beds of clay and sand here. Afterwards they 
were completely surveyed during Hedenstrom's expeditions, fitted 
out by Count Rumauzov, Chancellor of the Russian Empire, in 
the years 1809-1811, and during Lieutenant Anjou's in 1823. 
Hedenstrom's expeditions were carried out by travelling with 
dog-sledges on the ice, before it broke, to the islands, passing 
the summer there, and returning in autumn, when the sea was 
again covered with ice. As the question relates to the possibility 
of navigating this sea, these expeditions, carried out in a very 
praiseworthy way, might be expected to have great interest, 
especially through observations from land, concerning the state 
of the ice in autumn ; but in the short account of Hedenstrom's 
expeditions which is inserted in Wrangel's Travels, pp. 99-119, the 
only source accessible to me in this respect, there is not a single 
word on this point. ^ Information on this subject, so important 
for our expedition, has, however, by Mr, Sibiriakoff's care, been 
received from inhabitants of North Siberia, who earn their living 
by collecting mammoths' tusks on the group of islands in question. 
By these accounts the sea between the north coast of Asia and 
the islands of New Siberia, is every year pretty free of ice. 

Avery remarkable discovery was made in 1811 by a member 
of Hedenstrom's expedition, the Yakoutsk townsman Sannikov ; 
for he found, on the west coast of the island Katelnoj, remains 
of a roughly-timbered winter habitation, in the neighbourhood 
of the wreck of a vessel, differing completely in build from those 
which are common in Siberia. Partly from this, partly from a 

1 Wrangel's own journeys were carried out during winter, with dog 
sledges on the ice, and, however interesting in many other respects, do not 
yield any other direct contribution to our knowledge of the state of the 
ice in summer and autumn. 


number of tools vvliicli lay scattered on the beach, Sanuikov drew 
the conclusion, that a hunter from Spitzbergen or Novaya Zemlya 
had been driven thither by the wind, and had lived there for a 
season with his crew. Unfortunately the inscription on a monu- 
mental cross in the neighbourhood of the hut was not translated. 

During the great northern expeditions,^ several attempts were 
also made to force a passage eastwards from the Lena. The first 
was under the command of Lieutenant Lassinius in 1735. He 
left the most easterly mouth-arm of the Lena on the 21st of 
August, and sailed 120 versts eastward, and there encountered 
drift ice which compelled him to seek a harbour at the coast. 
Here the winter was passed, with the unfortunate result, that 
the chief himself, and most of the fifty-two men belonging 
to the expedition, perished of scurvy. 

The following year, 1736, there was sent out, in the same 
direction, a new expedition under Lieutenant Dmitri Laptev. 
With the vessel of Lassinius he attempted, in the middle of 
August, to sail eastward, but he soon fell in with a great deal of 
drift ice. So soon as the end of the month — the time when navi- 
gation ought properly to begin — he turned towards the Lena on 
account of ice. 

In 1739 Laptev undertook his third voyage. He penetrated 
to the mouth of the Indigirka, which was frozen over on 
the 21st September, and wintered there. The following year 
the voyage was continued somewhat beyond the mouth of the 
Kolyma to Cape Great Baranov, where further advance was pre- 
vented by drift ice on the 26th September. After having 
returned to the Kolyma, and wintered at Nischni Kolymsk, he 
attempted, the following year, again to make his way eastwards 
in some large boats built during winter, but, on account of 
fog, contrary winds, and ice, without success. In judging of the 
results these voyages yielded, we must take into consideration 
the utterly unsuitable vessels in whicli they were undertaken — 
at first in a double sloop, built at Yakoutsk, in 1735, afterwards 
in two large boats built at ]\isclmi Kolymsk. If we may judge 
of the nature of these craft from those now used on the Siberian 
rivers, we ought rather to be surprised that any of them could 
venture out on a real sea, than consider the unsuccessful 
voyages just described as proofs that there is no probability of 
being able to force a passage here with a vessel of modern build, 
and provided with steam power. 

It remains, finally, for me to give an account of the at- 
tempts that have been made to penetrate westward from 
Beh ring's Straits. 

1 This i.s a common name for the many Kussian expeditions whid), 
during the years 1734-174H, were sent into the North Polar Sea from the 
Dwina, Obi, Yenisej, Lena, and Kamschatka. 


Deschnev's voyage, from the Lena, through Behring's Straits 
to the mouth of the Anadir, in 1648, became completely forgotten 
in the course of about a century, until Miiller, by searches in 
the Siberian archives, recovered the details of these and various 
other voyages along the north coast of Siberia. That the 
memory of these remarkable voyages has been preserved to 
after-times, however, depends, as has been already stated, upon 
accidental circumstances, lawsuits, and such like, which led to 
correspondence with the authorities. Of other similar under- 
takings we have certainly no knowledge, although now and then 
we find it noted that the Polar Sea had in former times often 
been traversed. In accounts of the expeditions fitted out by 
the authorities, it, for instance, often happens that mention is 
made of meeting with hunters and traders, who were sailing 
along the coast in the prosecution of private enterprise. Little 
attention was, however, given to these voyages, and, eighty-one 
years after Deschnev's voyage, the existence of straits between 
the north-eastern extremity of Asia and the north-western ex- 
tremity of America was quite unknown, or at least doubted. 
Finally, in 1729, Behring anew sailed through the Sound, and 
attached his name to it. He did not sail, however, very far (to 
172° W. Long.) along the north coast of Asia, although he does 
not appear to have met with any obstacle from ice. Nearly fifty 
years afterwards Cook concluded in these waters the series of 
splendid discoveries with which he enriched geographical 
science. After havincr, in 1778, sailed a good wav eastwards 
along the north coast of America, he turned towards the west, 
and reached the 180th degree of longitude on the 29th August : 
the fear of meeting with ice deterred him from sailing further 
westward, and his vessel appears to have scarcely been equipped 
or fitted for sailing among ice. 

After Cook's time we know of only three expeditions which 
have sailed westwards from Behring's Straits. The first was an 
American expedition, under Captain Rodgers, in 1855. He 
reached, through what appears to have been open water, the 
longitude of Cape Yakan (176° E. from Greenwich). The second 
was that of the English steam-whaler Long, who, in 1867, in search 
of a new profitable whale-fishing ground, sailed further west than 
any before him. By the 10th August he had reached the 
longitude of Tschaun Bay (170° E. from Greenwich). He was 
engaged in whale-fishing, not in an exploring expedition, and 
turned here ; but, in the short account he has given of his 
voyage, he expresses the decided conviction that a voyage from 
Behring's Straits to the Atlantic belongs to the region of possi- 
bilities, and adds that, even if this sea-route does not come to 
be of any commercial importance, that between the Lena and 
Behring's Straits ought to be useful for turnincj to account the 


products of Northern Siberia.^ Finally, last year a Russian 
expedition was sent out to endeavour to reach Wrangel's Land 
from Behring's Straits. According to communications in the 
newspapers, it was prevented by ice from sailing thence, as 
well as from sailing far to the west. 

Information has been obtained through Mr. SibiriakofF, from 
North Siberia, regarding the state of the ice in the neighbour- 
ing sea. The hunting in these regions appears to have now 
fallen off so seriously, that only few persons were found who 
could give any answers to the questions put. 

Thus in Yakoutsk there was only one man (a priest) who 
had been at the coast of the Polar Sea. He states that when 
the wind blows off the land the sea becomes free of ice, but 
that the ice comes back when the wind blows on to the land, 
and thereby exposes the vessels which cannot reach a safe 
harbour to great dans^er. 

Another correspondent states, on the ground of observa- 
tions made during Tschikanovski's expedition, that in 1875 the 
sea off the Olonek was coniplctely free of ice, but adds at the 
same time that the year in this respect was an exceptional one. 
The Arctic Ocean, not only in summer, but also during winter, 
is occasionally free of ice, and at a distance of 200 versts from the 
coast, the sea is open even in winter, in what direction, however, 
is uncertain. The latter fact is also confirmed by Wrangel's 
journeys with dog-sledges on the ice in 1821-1823. 

A third person says, " According to the information which I 
have received, the north coast, from the mouth of the Lena to 
that of the Lidigirka, is free from ice from July to September. 
The north wind drives the ice towards the coast, but not in 
large masses. According to the observations of the men who 
search for mammoth tusks, the sea is open as far as the 
southern part of the New Siberia Islands. It is probable that 
these islands form a protection against the ice in the Werchnojan 
region. It is otherwise on the Kolyma coast ; and if the 
Kolyma can be reached from Behring's Straits, so certainly can 
the Lena." 

The circumstance that the ice during summer is driven from 
the coast by southerly winds, yet not so far but that it returns, 
in larger or smaller quantity, with northerly winds, is further 
confirmed by other correspondents, and appears to me to 
show that the New Siberian Islands and Wrangel's Land only 
form links in an extensive group of islands, running parallel with 
the north coast of Siberia, which, on the one hand, keeps the 
ice from the intermediate sea from drifting away altogether, and 
favours the formation of ice during winter, but, on the other 

' Petermann s Mlttheiliiiigen, 1868, p. 1, and 1869, p. 32. 


hand, protects the coast from the Polar ice proper, formed to the 
north of the islands. The information I have received besides, 
refers principally to the summer months. As in the Kara 
Sea, which formerly had a yet worse reputation, the ice here, 
too, perhaps, melts away for the most part during autumn, so 
that at this season we may reckon on a pretty open sea. 

Most of the correspondents, who have given information 
about the state of the ice in the Siberian Polar Sea, concern 
themselves further with the reports current in Siberia, that 
American whalers have been seen from the coaot far to the 
westward. The correctness of these reports was always denied 
in the most decided way : yet they rest, at least to some 
extent, on a basis of fact. For I have myself met with a 
whaler, who for three years in a steamer carried on trade with 
the inhabitants of the coast from Cape Yakan to Behring's 
Straits. He was quite convinced that some years at least it 
would be possible to sail from Behring's Straits to the Atlantic. 
On one occasion he had returned through Behring's Straits as 
late as the 17th October. 

From what I have thus stated, it follows, — 
That the ocean lying north of the north coast of Siberia, 
between the mouth of the Yenisej and Tschaun Bay, has never 
been ploughed by the keel of any proper sea-going vessel, still 
less been traversed by any steamer specially fitted out for 
navigation among ice : 

That the small vessels with which it has been attempted 
to traverse this part of the ocean never ventured very far 
from the coast : 

That an open sea, with a fresh breeze, was as destructive for 
them, indeed more destructive, than a sea covered with drift 
ice : 

That they almost always sought some convenient winter har- 
bour, just at that season of the year when the sea is freest of 
ice, namely, late summer or autumn : 

That, notwithstanding the sea from Cape Chelyuskin to 
Behring's Straits has been repeatedly traversed, no one has yet 
succeeded in sailing over the whole extent at once : 

That the covering of ice formed daring winter along the coast, 
but probably not in the open sea, is every summer broken up, 
ffivins origin to extensive fields of drift ice, which are driven, 
now by a northerly wind towards the coast, now by a south 
wind out to sea, yet not so far but that it comes back to the 
coast after some days' northerly wind ; whence it appears 
probable that the Siberian Sea is, so to say, shut off from 
the Polar Sea proper, by a series of islands, of which, for the 
present, we know only Wrangel's Land and the islands which 
form New Siberia. 


lo tills connection it seems to me probable that a well- 
equipped steamer would be able without meeting too many 
difficulties, at least obstacles from ice, to force a passage this 
way during autumn in a few days, and thus not only solve a 
geographical problem of several centuries' standing, but also, with 
all the means that are now at the disposa,l of the man of science 
in researches in geography, hydrography, geology, and natural 
history, survey a hitherto almost unknown sea of enormous extent. 

The sea north of Behring's Straits is now visited by hundreds 
of whaling steamers, and the way thence to American and 
European harbours therefore forms a much-frequented route. 
Some few decades back, this was, however, by no means the case. 
The voyages of Behring, Cook, Kotzebue, Beechey, and others 
were then considered as adventurous, fortunate exploring ex- 
peditions of great value and importance in respect of science, 
but without any direct practical utility. For nearly a hundred 
and fifty years the same was the case with Spangberg's voyage 
from Kamschatka to Japan in the year 1739, by which the 
exploring expeditions of the Russians, in the northernmost part 
of the Pacific Ocean, were connected with those of the Dutch 
and the Portuguese to India and Japan ; and in case our expedition 
succeeds in reaching the Suez Canal, after having circumnavi- 
gated Asia, there will meet us there a splendid work, which, more 
than any other, reminds us, that Avhat to-day is declared by ex- 
perts to be impossible, is often carried into execution to-morrow. 

I am also fully convinced that it is not only possible to sail 
along the north coast of Asia, provided circumstances are not too 
unfavourable, but that such an enterprise will be of incalculable 
practical importance, by no means directly, as opening a new 
commercial route, but indirectly, by the impression which would 
thereby be communicated of the practical utility of a com- 
munication by sea between the ports of North Scandinavia and 
the Obi and Yenisej, on the one hand, and between the Pacific 
Ocean and the Lena on the other. 

Should the expedition, contrary to expectation, not succeed 
in carrying out the programme which has been arranged in its 
entirety, it ought not to be looked upon as having failed. In 
such a case the expedition will remain for a considerable time 
at places on the north coast of Siberia, suitable for scientific 
research. Every mile beyond the mouth of the Yenisej is a step 
forward to a complete knowledge of our globe — an object which 
sometime or other must be attained, and towards which it is 
a point of honour for every civilised nation to contribute in its 

Men of science will have an opportunity, in these hitherto 
unvisited waters, of answering a number of questions regarding 
the former and present state of the Polar countries, of which 


more than one is of sufficient weight and importance to lead to 
such an expedition as the present. I may be permitted here 
to refer to only a few of these. 

If we except that part of the Kara Sea which, has been 
surveyed by the two last Swedish expeditions, we have for the 
present no knowledge of the vegetable and animal life in the 
sea which washes the north coast of Siberia. Quite certainly we 
shall here, in opposition to what has been hitherto supposed, 
meet with the same abundance of animals and plants as in the 
sea round Spitzbergen. In the Siberian Polar sea, the animal 
and vegetable types, so far as we can judge beforehand, exclusively 
consist of survivals from the glacial period, which next preceded 
the present, which is not the case in the Polar Sea, where the 
Gulf Stream distributes its waters, and whither it thus carries 
types from more southerly regions. But a complete and exact 
knowledge of which animal types are of glacial, and which of 
Atlantic origin, is of the greatest importance, not only for zoology 
and the geography of animals, but also for the geology of Scan- 
dinavia, and especially for the knowledge of our loose earthy layers. 

Few scientific discoveries have so powerfully captivated the 
interest, both of the learned and unlearned, as that of the colossal 
remains of elephants, sometimes well preserved, with flesh and 
hair, in the frozen soil of Siberia. Such discoveries have more 
than once formed the object of scientific expeditions, and care- 
ful researches by eminent men ; but there is still much that is 
enigmatical with respect to a number of circumstances connected 
with the mammoth period of Siberia, which i^crhaps was con- 
temporaneous with our glacial period. Specially is our know- 
ledge of the animal and vegetable types, which lived contem- 
poraneously with the mammoth, exceedingly incomplete, although 
we know that in the northernmost parts of Siberia, which are 
also most inaccessible from land, there are small hills covered 
with the bones of the mammoth and other contemporaneous 
animals, and that there is found everywhere in that region so- 
called Noah's wood, that is to say, half-petrified or carbonised 
vegetable remains from several different geological periods. 

Taking a general view of the subject, we see that an 
investigation, as complete as possible, of the geology of the 
Polar countries, so difficult of access, is a condition indis- 
pensable to a knowledge of the former history of our globe. In 
order to prove this I need only point to the epoch-making 
influence which has been exerted on geological theories by the 
discovery, in the rocks and earthy layers of the Polar countries, 
of beautiful fossil plants from widely separated geological 
periods. In this field too our expedition to the north coast of 
Siberia ought to expect to reap abundant harvests. There are 
besides to be found in Siberia, strata which have been deposited 


almost contemporaneously with the coal-bearing formations of 
South Sweden, and which therefore contain animal and vegetable 
petrifications which just now are of very special interest for 
geological science in our own country, with reference to the dis- 
coveries of splendid fossil plants which of late years have been 
made at several places among us, and give us so lively an idea 
of the sub-tropical vegetation which in former times covered the 
Scandinavian peninsula. 

Few sciences perhaps will yield so important practical results 
as meteorology is likely to do at some future date — a fact, or 
rather an already partly realised expectation, which has won 
general recognition, as is shown by the large sums which in 
all civilised countries have been set apart for establishing 
meteorological offices and for encouraging meteorological re- 
search. But the state of the weather in a country is so 
dependent on the temperature, wind, pressure of the air, etc., 
in very remote regions that the laws of the meteorology of a 
country can only be ascertained by comparing observations from 
the most distant regions. Several international meteorological 
enterprises have already been started, and we may almost con- 
sider the meteorological institutions of the different countries as 
separate departments of one and the same office, distributed over 
the whole world, through whose harmonious co-operation the 
object in view shall one day be reached. But, beyond the places 
for which daily series of observations may be obtained, there are 
regions hundreds of square miles in extent from which no 
observations, or only scattered ones, are yet to be had, and here 
notwithstanding we have just the key to many meteorological 
phenomena, otherwise difficult of explanation, within the civilised 
countries of Europe. Such a meteorological territory, unknown, 
but of the greatest importance, is formed by the Polar Sea lying 
to the north of Siberia, and the land and islands there situated. 
It is of great importance for the meteorology of Europe and of 
Sweden to obtain trustw^orthy accounts of the distribution of the 
land, of the state of the ice, the pressure of the air, and the 
temperature in that in these respects little-known part of the 
globe, and the Swedish expedition will here have a subject for 
investigation of direct importance for our own country. 

To a certain extent the same may be said of the contributions 
which may be obtained from those regions to our knoAvledge 
of terrestrial magnetism, of the aurora, etc. There are, besides, 
the examination of the flora and fauna in those countries, 
hitherto unknown in this respect, ethnographical researches, 
hydrographical work, etc. 

I have of course only been able to notice shortly the scientific 
questions which will meet the expedition during a stay of some 
length on the north coast of Siberia, but what has been said 


may perhaps be sufficient to show that the expedition, even 
if its geographical objects were not attained, ought to be a 
worthy continuation of similar enterprises which have been set 
on foot in this country, and which have brought gain to science 
and honour to Sweden. 

Should the expedition again, as I hope, be able to reach 
Behring's Straits with little hindrance, and thus in a com- 
paratively short time — in that case indeed the time, which on 
the way can be devoted to researches in natural history, will be 
quite too short for solving many of the scientific questions I 
have mentioned. But without reckoning the world-historical 
navigation problem which will then be solved, extensive con- 
tributions of immense importance ought also to be obtainable 
regarding the geography, hydrography, zoology, and botany 
of the Siberian Polar Sea, and, beyond Behring's Straits, the 
expedition will meet with other countries having a more 
luxuriant and varied nature, where other questions which 
perhaps concern us less, but are not on that account of less 
importance for science as a whole, will claim the attention 
of the observer and yield him a rich reward for his labour 
and pains. These are the considerations which formed the 
grounds for the arrangement of the plan of the expedition which 
is now in question. 

It is my intention to leave Sweden in the beginning of 
July, 1878, in a steamer, specially built for navigation among 
ice, which will be provisioned for two years at most, and 
which, besides a scientific staff of four or five persons, will 
have on board a naval officer, a physician, and at most eighteen 
men — petty officers and crew, preferably volunteers, from your 
Royal Majesty's navy. Four walrus-hunters will also be hired 
in Norway. The course will be shaped at first to Matotschkin 
Sound, in Novaya Zemlya, where a favourable opportunity 
will be awaited for the passage of the Kara Sea. Afterwards 
the voyage will be continued to Port Dickson, at the mouth 
of the Yenisej, which 1 hope to be able to reach in the first 
half of August. As soon as circumstances permit, the 
expedition Avill continue its voyage from this point in the open 
channel which the river-water of the Obi and the Yenisej must 
indisputably form along the coast to Cape Chelyuskin, possibly 
with some short excursions towards the north-west in order 
to see whether any large island is to be found between the 
northern part of Novaya Zemlya and New Siberia. 

At Cape Chelyuskm the expedition will reach the only 
part of the proposed route which has not been traversed by 
some small vessel, and this place is perhaps rightly considered 
as that which it will be most difficult for a vessel to double 
during the whole north-east passage. As Prontschischev, in 



1736, in small river craft built with insufficient means reached 
within a few minutes of this north-westernmost promontory of 
Asia, our vessel, equipped with all modern appliances, ought 
not to find insuperable difficulties in doubling this point, and 
if that be accomplished, we will probably have pretty open 
water towards Behring's Straits, which ought to be reached 
before the end of September. 

If time, and the state of the ice permit, it would be desirable 
that the expedition during this voyage should make some ex- 
cursions towards the north, in order to ascertain whether land 
is not to be found between Cape Chelyuskin and the New 
Siberian group of islands, and between it and Wrangel's Land. 
From Behring's Straits the course will be shaped, with such 
stoppages as circumstances give rise to, for some Asiatic port, 
from which accounts may be sent home, and then onwards round 
Asia to Suez. Should the expedition be prevented from 
forcing a passage east of Cape Chelyuskin, it will depend on 
circumstances which it is difficult to foresee, whether it will 
immediately return to Europe, in which case the vessel with its 
equipment and crew may be immediately available for some 
other purpose, or whether it ought not to winter in some suit- 
able harbour in the bays at the mouths of the Tajmur, 
Pjasina, or Yenisej. Again, in case obstacles from ice occur east 
of Cape Chelyuskin, a harbour ought to be sought for at 
some convenient place on the north coast of Siberia, from 
which, during the following summer, opportunities would be 
found for important surveys in the Polar Sea, and during the 
course of the summer some favourable opening will also cer- 
tainly occur, when southerly winds have driven the ice from 
the coast, for reaching Behring's Straits. Probably also, if 
it be necessary to winter, there will be opportunities of sending 
home letters from the winter station. 

30 THE VOYAGE OF THE VEGA. [chap. i. 


Departure — Tromsoe — Members of tlie Expedition — Stay atMaosoe — Limit 
of Trees — Climate — Scurvy and Antiscorbutics— Tlie first doubling of 
North Cape — Othere's account of his Travels — Ideas concerning the 
Geography of Scandinavia current during the first half of the sixteenth 
century — The oldest Maps of the North — Herbertstein's account of 
Istoma's voyage — Gustaf Vasa and the North-east Passage — 
Willoughby and Chancelor's voyages. 

The Vega left the harbour of Karlskrona on the 22nd 
June, 1878. Including Lieutenants Palander and Brusewitz, 
there were then on board nineteen men belonging to the 
Swedish navy, and two foreign naval officers, who were to 
take part in the expedition — Lieutenants Hovgaard and 
Bove. The two latter had lived some time at Karlskrona 
in order to be present at the fitting out and repairing of 
the vessel. 

On the 24th June the Vega called at Copenhagen in order to 
take on board the large quantity of provisions which had been 
purchased there. On the 26th June the voyage was resumed to 
Gothenburg, where the Vega anchored on the 27th. During the 
passage there was on board the famous Italian geographer, Com- 
mendatore Christoforo Negri, who, for several years back, 
had followed with special interest all Arctic voyages, and now 
had received a commission from the Government of his native 
country to be present at the departure of the Vega from 
Sweden, and to make himself acquainted with its equip- 
ment, &c. At Gothenburg there embarked Decent Kjell- 
man, Dr. Almquist, Dr. Stuxberg, Lieutenant Nordquist, 
and an assistant to the naturalists, who had been hired in 
Stockholm ; and here were taken on board the greater part 
of the scientific equipment of the expedition, and various 
stocks of provisions, clothes, &c., that had been purchased 
in Sweden. 

On the 4th July the Vega left the harbour of Gothenburg. 
While sailing along the west coast of Norway there blew a 
fresh head wind, by which the arrival of the vessel at Tromsoe 
was delayed till the l7th July. Here I went on board. Coal, 
water, reindeer furs ' for all our men, and a large quantity of 

1 In many Polar expeditions, sealskin has been used as clothing instead 
of reindeer skin. The reindeer skin, however, is lighter and warmer, and 
ought therefore to have an unconditional preference as a means of pro- 
tection against severe cold. In mild weatlier, clothing made of reindeer 
skin in the common way has indeed the defect that it is drenched 
through with water, and thereby becomes useless, but in such weather it 

'J A •: 



other stores, bought iu Fiumark for the expedition, were taken 
in here ; and three wah'us-huuters, hired for the voyage, 

On the 21st July the whole equipment of the Vega was on 
board, the number of its crew complete, all clear for departure, 
and the same day at 2.15 P.M. we weighed anchor, with lively 
hurrahs from a numerous crowd assembled at the beach, to 
enter in earnest on our Arctic voyage. 

The members of the expedition on board the Vega were — 

A. E. Nordenskiold, Professor, in com- 
mand of the expedition born 18th Nov. 1832 

A. A. L. Palander, Lieutenant, now Cap- 
tain in the Royal Swedish Navy, chief 
of the steamer Vega .'.... ,, 2nd Oct. 184<0 

F. R. Kjellman, Ph.D., Decent in Botany 
in the University of Upsala, superin- 
tendent of the botanical work of the 

expedition ,, 4th Nov. 1846 

A. J. Stuxberg, Ph.D., superintendent 

of the zoological work ,, 18th April 1849 

E. . Almquist, Candidate of Medicine, 

medical officer of the expedition, 

lichenologist ,, 8th Aug. 1852 

E. C. Brusewitz, Lieutenant in the Royal 

Swedish Navy, second in command of 

the vessel „ 1st Dec. 1844 

G. Bove, Lieutenant in the Royal Italian 
- Navy, superintendent of the hydrogra- 

phical work of the expedition ... ,, 23rd Oct. 1853 

A. -Hovgaard, Lieutenant in the Royal 
Danish Navy, superintendent of the 
magnetical and meteorological work 
of the expedition ,, 1st Nov. 1853 

O. Nordquist, Lieutenant in the Im- 
perial Russian Regiment of Guards, 
interpreter, assistant zoologist ... „ 20th May 1858 

R. Nilsson, sailing-master ,, 5th Jan. 1837 

is in general nnnecessary to use furs. The coast Chukcliis, who catch 
great numbers of seals, but can only obtain reindeer skins by purchase, 
yet consider clothing made of the latter material indispensable in winter. 
During this season they wear an overcoat of the same form as the Lapps' 
pesh, the suitableness of whose cut thus appears to be well proved. On 
this account I prefer the old-world Polar dress to that of the new, which 
consists of more closely fitting clothes. The Lapp shoes of reindeer skin 
(rensJcaUar, homager) are, on the other hand, if one has not opportunity 
to change them frequently, nor time to take sufficient care of them, quite 
unserviceable for Arctic journeys. 




F. A. Pettersson, first engineer 
O. Nordstrom, second engineer 
C. Carlstrom, fireman 
O. Ingelsson, fireman 
O. Oeman, seaman 

G. Carlsson, seaman . 

C. Lundgren, seaman . 
O. Hansson, seaman 

D. Asplund, boatswain, cook 
C. J. Smaolaenning, boatswain 
C. Levin, boatswain, steward 
P. M. Lustig, boatswain 
C. Ljungstrom, boatswain 
P. Lind, boatswain 
P. O. Faeste, boatswain 
S. Andersson, 'carpenter . 
J. Haugan, walrus-hunter^ 
P. Johnsen, walrus-hunter 
P. Sivertsen, walrus-hunter 
Th. A. Bostrom, assistant to the scientific 


bom 3rd July 1885 
24th Feb. 1855 
14th Dec. 1845 
2nd Feb. 1849 
2:3rd April 1843 
22nd Sep. 1843 
5th July 1851 
6th April 1856 
28th Jan. 1827 
27th Sep. 1839 
24th Jan. 1844 
12th Oct. 1845 
15th Sep. 1856 
23rd Sep. 1856 
3rd Sep. 1847 
23rd Jan. 1825 
15th May 1845 
2nd Jan. 1853 

21st Sep. 1857 

There was also on board the Vega during the voyage from 
Tromsoe to Port Dickson, as commissioner for Mr. SibiriakofF, 
Mr. S. J. SerebrenikofF, who had it in charg'e to oversee the 
taking on board and the landing of the goods that were to be 
carried to and from Siberia in the Fraser and Express. These 
vessels had sailed several da,ys before from Vardoe to Chaborova 
in Yugor Schar, where they had orders to wait for the Vega. 
The Lena, again, the fourth vessel that was placed at my 
disposal, had, in obedience to orders, awaited the Vega in 
the harbour of Tromsoe, from which port these two steamers 
were now to proceed eastwards in company. 

After leaving Tromsoe, the course was shaped at first within 
the archipelago to Maosoe, in whose harbour the Vega was to 
make some hours' stay, for the purpose of posting letters in 
the post-office there, probably the most northerly in the world. 
But during this time so violent a north-west wind began to 
blow, that we were detained there three days. 

Maosoe is a little rocky island situated in 71° N. L., thirty-two 
kilometres south-west from North Cape, in a region abounding 
in fish, about halfway between Bred Sound and Mageroe Sound. 
The eastern coast of the island is indented by a bay, which 

^ Haugan had formerly for a long series of years carried Lis own vessel 
to Spitzbergen and Novaya Zemlya, and was known as one of the most 
fortunate walrus-hunters of the Norwegian Polar Sea fleet. 



forms a well protected harbour. Here, only a few kilometres 
south of the northernmost promontory of Europe, are to be 
found, besides a large number of fishermen's huts, a church, 
shop, post-office, hospital, &c. ; and I need scarcely add, at 
least for the benefit of those who have travelled in the north 
of Norway, several friendly, hospitable families in whose society 
we talked away many hours of our involuntary stay in the 
neighbourhood. The inhabitants of course live on fish. All 


Lapp, after original in the Northern Museum, Stockhohn. 

agriculture is impossible here. Potatoes have indeed some- 
times yielded an abundant crop on the neighbouring Ingoe 
(71° 5' N. L.), but their cultivation commonly fails, in conse- 
quence of the shortness of the summer ; on the other hand, 
radishes and a number of other vegetables are grown with 
success in the garden-beds. Of wild berries there is found here 
the red whortleberr}', yet in so small quantity that one can 
seldom collect a quart or two : the bilberry is somewhat more 
l^lentiful ; but the grapes of the north, the cloudberry (jmdter), 




grow in profuse abundance. From an area of several square 
fathoms one can often gather a couple of quarts. There is no 
Avood here — only bushes. 

In the neighbovirhood of North Cape, the wood, for the 
present, does not go quite to the coast of the Polar Sea, but at 
sheltered places, situated at a little distance from the beach, 
birches,' three to four metres high, are already to be met with. 



Gieenlanders, after an old painting in the Ethnographical Museum, Copenhagen. "- 

' The birch which grows here is the sweet-scented birch (Betula 
odorata, Bechst.), not the dwarf birch (Betula nana, L.), which is found 
as far north as Ice Fjord in Spitzbergen (78'' 7' N. L.), though there it 
only rises a few inches above ground. 

- Tlie original of this drawing, for which I am indebted to Councillor 
of Justice H. Rink, of Copenhagen, was painted by a German painter at 
Bergen, in 1654. The painting has the following inscription : — 

Wit ?ebcru Scl^ifffein cuff bem iD?eer 

£e grcnleinber fein ^ein unbt I;er 

35on 2:i)teven unbt ^ccjelen I;aben See 3re Txa^t 

Xa^ falte 2anb3 toon 2Binter nad;t. 

D 2 




In former times, however, the outer archipelago itself was 
covered with trees, which is proved by the tree-stems, found 
imbedded in the mosses on the outer islands on the coast of 
Fin mark, for instance, upon Renoe. In Siberia the limit of 
trees runs to the beginning of the estuary delta, i.e., to about 
72° N. L.i As the latitude of North Cape is 71° 10', the wood 
in Siberia at several places, viz., along the great rivers, goes 
considerably farther north than in Europe. This depends partly 
on the large quantity of warm water which these rivers, in 
summer, carry down from the south, partly on the transport of 


At rrrestevandet, ou Tromsoen, after a photogr.Tph. 

seeds with the river water, and on the more favourable soil, 
which consists of a rich mould, yearly renewed by inundations, 
but in Norway again for the most part of rocks of granite and 
ffneiss or of barren beds of sand. Besides, the limit of trees 

O .... ... 

has a quite dissimilar appearance in Siberia and Scandinavia : 

1 According to Latkin, Die Lena und ihr Flussgebiet {Petermann^a 
Mittheihingen, 1879, p. 91). On the map which accompanies Engehardt's 
reproduction of Wrangel's Journey (Berlin, 1839), the limit of trees at the 
Lena is placed at 71° N. L. 




ill the latter country, the farthest outposts of the forests towards 
the north consist of scraggy birches, which, notwithstanding 
their stunted stems, clothe the mountain sides with a very 
lively and close green ; while in Siberia the outermost trees are 
gnarled and half-withered larches {Larix dahurica, Turcz.), 
which stick up over the tops of the hills like a thin grey 
brush.^ North of this limit there are to be seen on the Yenisej 
luxuriant bushes of willow and alder. That in Siberia too, the 
large wootl, some hundreds or thousands of years ago, went 
farther north than now, is shown by colossal tree-stumps found 
still standing in the tundra, nor is it necessary now to go far 





At Boganida, after Middendorf. 

south of the extreme limit, before the river banks are to be 
seen crowned with high, flourishing, luxuriant trees. 

The climate at Maosoe is not distinguished by any severe 
winter cold,- but the air is moist and raw nearly all the year 

' On the Kola Peiiinsul;i, and in the neighbourhood of the White Sea, 
as far as to Ural, the limit of trees consists of a species of pine {Picea 
ohovuUi, Ledeb.), but farther east in Kaiuschatka again of birch. — Th. 
von Middendorff, Reise in dem ausserstm Norden uml Osten Sibiriens, 
vol. iv. p. 582. 

^ An idea of the influence exerted by the immediate neighbourhood of a 
warm ocean-current in making the climate milder may be obtained from 
the following table of the mean temjieratures of the different months at 
1. Tromsoe (6^° 30' N. L.) ; 2. Fruhulni, near North Cape (71° 6' N. L.) ; 


round. The region would however be very healthy, did not 
scurvy, especially in humid winters, attack the population. 


Fruit of the natural size. Flowering stalks diminished. 

3. A^ardoe (70'' 22' N. L.) ; 4. Enontekis and Karesuando, on the i-iver 
Muonio, in the interior of Lapland (68° 2G' N. L.). 

Tromsoe. Fnthiilm. Varrloe. Enontekis. 

January - 4-2° -2 7° -6-0° -13-7° 

February - 4-0 -4-7 -6-4 --17-1 

March - 3-8 -3-2 -5-1 -11-4 

April - 0-1 -0-9 -1-7 - 6-0 

May + 3-2 +2-7 +1-8 + 0-9 

June + 8-7 +7-5 +5-9 -f 8-0 

July +11-5 +9-3 4-8-8 +11-6 

August +10-4 +9-9 +9-8 +12-0 

September +7-0 -4-5-8 -|-(v4 -|- 4-5 

October... + 2-0 -f 2 5 +1-3 - 4-0 

November - 1-7 -M -2-1 - 9-9 

December -3-2 -1-9 -40 -11-3 

The figures are taken from H. Mohn's Norges Klima (reprinted from C. F. 
Schubeler's VcvxtUvet i Norge, J^\\x\iii\a,mi\, 1879), and A. J. Angstrom, Om 
lufttemperaturen i Enontekis (Of vers, af Vet. Akad. Forhandl., 1860). 


educated and uneducated, rich and poor, old and young. 
According to a statement made by a lady resident on the spot, 
very severe attacks of scurvy are cured without fail by preserved 
cloudberries and rum. Several spoonfuls are given to the 
patient daily, and a coujdIc of quarts of the medicine is said 
to be sufficient for the complete cure of children severely 
attacked by the disease. I mention this new method of using 
the cloudberry, the old well-known antidote to scurvy, because 
I am convinced that future Polar expeditions, if they will avail 
themselves of the knowledge of this cure, will find that it 
conduces to the health and comfort of all on board, and that 
the medicine is seldom refused, unless it be by too obstinate 
abstainers from spirituous liquors. 

It enters into the plan of this work, as the Vega sails along, 
to give a brief account of the voyages of the men who first 
opened the route along which she advances, and who thus, each 
in his measure, contributed to jirepare the way for the voyage 
whereby the passage round Asia and Europe has now at last 
been accomplished. On this account it is incumbent on me 
to begin by giving a narrative of the voyage of discovery during 
which the northernmost point of Europe was first doubled, the 
rather because this narrative has besides great interest for 
us, as containing much remarkable information regarding the 
condition of the former poj)ulation in the north of Scandinavia. 

This voyage was accomplished about a thousand years ago 
by a Norwegian, Othere, from Halogaland or Helgoland, that 
part of the Norwegian coast which lies between 65° and Q(j° 
N. L. Othere, who appears to have travelled far and wide, came 
in one of his excursions to the court of the famous English 
king, Alfred the Great. In presence of this king he gave, in a 
simple, graphic style, a sketch of a voyage which he had under- 
taken from his home in Norway towards the north and east. The 
narrative has been preserved by its having been incorporated, 
along with an account of the travels of another Norseman, 
Wulfstan, to the southern part of the Baltic, in the first chapter 
of Alfred's Anglo-Saxon reproduction of the history of Paulus 
Orosius : De Miseria Mundi} This work has since been 

1 Orosius was born in Spain in the fourth century after Christ, and 
died in the beginning of the fifth. He was a Christian, and wrote his 
work to show that the workl, in opposition to the statements of several 
heathen writers, had been visited during the heathen period by quite as 
great cahimities as during the Christian. This is probably the reason 
why his monotonous sketch of all the misfortunes and calamities which be- 
fell the lieathen world was long so highly valued, was spread in many copies 
and printed in umumerable editions, the oldest at Vienna in 1471. \\\ 
the Anglo-Saxon translation now in question, Othere's account of his 
journey is inserted in the first chapter, which properly forms a geogru- 


the subject of translation and exposition by a great number 
of learned men, among whom may be named here the 
Scandinavians, H. G. Porthan of Abo, RASMUS Rask and C. 
Chr. Rafx of Copenhagen. 

Regarding Othere's relations to King Alfred statements differ. 
Some inquirers suppose that he was only on a visit at the court 
of the king, others that he had been sent out by King Alfred 
on voyages of discovery, and finally, others say that he was 
a prisoner of war, who incidentally narrated his experience 
of foreign lands. Othere's account of his travels runs as 
fallows : — 

" Othere told his lord, King Alfred, that he dwelt northmost 
of all the Northmen. He said that he dwelt in the land to the 
northward, along the West-Sea; he said, however, that that 
land is very long north from thence, but it is all waste, except 
in a few places where the Fins at times dwell, hunting in the 
winter, and in the summer fishing in that sea. He said that he 
was desirous to try, once on a time, how far that country extended 
due north, or whether any one lived to the north of the waste. 
He then went due north along the dountry, leaving all the way 
the waste land on the right, and the wide sea on the left. After 
three days he was as far north as the whale-hunters go at the 
farthest. Then he proceeded in his course due north, as far as he 
could sail within another three days ; then the land there in- 
clined due east, or the sea into the land, he knew not which; but 
he knew that he waited there for a west wind or a little north, 
and sailed thence eastward along that land as far as he could 
sail in four days. Then he had to wait for a due north wind 
because the land inclined there due south, or the sea in on that 
land, he knew not which. He then sailed along the coast due 
south, as far as he could sail in five days. There lay a great river 
up in that land; they then turned in that river, because they 
durst not sail on up the river on account of hostility ; because 
all that country was inhabited on the other side of the river. 
He had not before met with any land that was inhabited since 
he left his own home ; but all the way he had waste land on his 
right, except some fishermen, fowlers, and hunters, all of whom 
were Fins : and he had constantly a wide sea to the left. The 

pineal introduction to the work written by King Alfred. This old 
Anglo-Saxon work is preserved in England in two beautiful manuscripts 
from the ninth and tenth centuries. Orosius' history itself is now for- 
gotten, but King Alfred's introduction, and especially his account of 
Othere's and Wulfstan's travels, have attracted much attention from in- 
quirers, as appears from the list of translations of this part of King 
Alfred's Orosius, given by Joseph Bos worth in his Kinf; Alfred's Anglo- 
Saxon version of the Compendious History of the World hy Orosius. 
London, 1859. 


Beorraas had well cultivated their country, but they (Othere 
and his companions) did not dare to enter it. And the Ter- 
finna ^ land was all waste, except where hunters, fishers, or 
fowlers had taken up their quarters. 

" The Beormas told him many particulars both of their own 
land and of other lands lying around them ; but he knew not 
what was true because he did not see it himself It seemed to 
him that the Fins and the Beormas spoke nearly the same lan- 
guage. He went thither chiefly, in addition to seeing the 
country, on account of the walruses,^ because they have very 
noble bones in their teeth, of which the travellers brought some 
to the king ; and their hides are very good for ship-ropes. 
These whales are much less than other whales, not being longer 
than seven ells. But in his own country is the best whale-hunt- 
ing. There they are eight-and-forty ells long, and the largest 
are fifty ells long. Of these he said he and five others had killed 
sixty in two days.^ He was a very wealthy man in those pos- 
sessions in which their wealth consists, that is, in wild deer. He 
had at the time he came to the king, six hundred unsold tame 
deer. These deer they call rein-deer, of which there were six 

1 By Fins are here meant Lapps ; by Terfins the inhabitants of the 
Tersk coast of Russian Laphind. 

2 Walruses are still captured yearly on the ice at the mouth of the 
White Sea, not very far from the shore (cf. A. E. Nordenskiold, Redogor- 
elsefor en expedition till mynningen af Jenisej och Sibirien ar 1875, p. 23 ; 
Bihang till Vetenshaps-Ahad . Handl. B. iv. No. 1). Now they occur there 
indeed only in small numbers, and, it appears, not in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of land ; but there is scarcely any doubt that informer days they 
were common on the most northerly coasts of Norway. They have evidently 
been driven away thence in the same w-ay as they are now being driven 
away from Spitzbergen. With what rapidity their numbers at the latter 
jilace are yearly diminished, may be seen from the fact that during my 
many Arctic journeys, beginning in 1858, I never saw walruses on Bear 
Island or the west coast of Spitzbergen, but have conversed with hunters 
who ten years before had seen them in herds of hundreds and thousands. 
I have myself seen such herds in Hinloopen Strait in July 1861, but when 
during my journeys in 1868 and 1872-3 I again visited the same regions, 
I saw there not a single walrus. 

^ As it appears to be impossible for six men to kill sixty great whales 
in two days, this passage has caused the editors of Othere's narrative 
much perplexity, which is not wonderful if great whales, as the Balcena 
mi/sficeius, are here meant. But if the narrative relates to the smaller 
species of the whale, a similar catch may still, atthe present day, be made 
on the coasts of the Polar countries. For various small species go together 
in great shoals ; and, as they occasionally come into water so shallow that 
they are left aground at ebb, they can be killed with ease. Sometimes, 
too, a successful attempt is made to drive them into shallow w^ater. That 
whales visit the coast of Norway in spring in large shoals dangerous to 
the navigator is also stated by Jacob Ziegler, in his work, Quce intus conti- 
neiifur Si/ria, Palest'ma, Arabia, jEgyptus, Hchondia, &c. Argentorati, 
1532, p. 97. 




decoy rein-deer, which are very valuable among the Fins, because 
they catch the wild rein-deer with them. 

" He was one of the first men in that country, yet he had not 
more than twenty horned cattle, twenty sheep and twenty swine, 
and the little that he ploughed he ploughed with horses. But their 
wealth consists mostly in the rent paid them by the Fins. That 
lent is in skins of animals and birds' feathers, and whalebone, 
and in ship-ropes made of whales' ^ hides, and of seals'. Every 
one pays according to his birth ; the best-born, it is said, pay the 
skins of fifteen martens, and five rein-deers, and one bear's skin, 
ten ambers of feathers, a bear's or otter's skin kyrtle, and two ship- 
ropes, each sixty ells long, made either of whale or of seal hide." 


Drawn with reference to the vessel found at Sandefjord in 18S0, under the superintendence of 
Ingvald Uudset, Assistant at the Christiauia University's collection of Northern antiquities. 

The continuation of Othere's narrative consists of a sketch of 
the Scandinavian peninsula, and of a journey which he under- 
took from his home towards the south. King Alfred then gives 
an account of the Dane, Wulfstan's voyage in the Baltic. This 
part of the introduction to Orosius, however, has too remote 
a connection with my subject to be quoted in this historical 

It appears from Othere's simple and very clear narrative that 

1 In this case is meant by " whale " evidently the walrus, whose skin is 
still used for lines by the Norwegian wah-us-hunters, by the Eskimo, and 
the Chukchis. The skin of the true whale might probably be used for 
the same purpose, although, on account of its thickness, perhaps scarcely 
with advantage without the use of special tools for cutting it up. 


NicoLAi DoNi's Editi 



ojnicMff.iKinlii&nwKTO fnuUitat»iiminCT\(iu«* 

The oolourin| of the Land, here added 

for the sake of distincKiess. is not in 

the Original. 


he undertook a veritable voyage of discovery in order to explore 
the unknown lands and sea lying to the north-east. This 
voyage was also very rich in results, as in the course of it 
the northernmost part of Europe was circumnavigated. Nor 
perhaps is there any doubt that during this voyage Othere 
penetrated as far as to the mouth of the Dwina or at least 
of the Mesen in the land of the Beormas.^ We learn from 
the narrative besides, that the northernmost part of Scandinavia 
was already, though sparsely, peopled by Lapps, whose mode of 
life did not differ much from tluit followed by their descendants, 
who live on the coast at the present day. 

The Scandinavian race first migrated to Finmark and settled 
there in the 13th century, and from that period there was 
naturally spread abroad in the northern countries a greater 
knowledge of those regions, which, however, was for a long time 
exceedingly incomplete, and even in certain respects less correct 
than Othere's. The idea of the northernmost parts of Europe, 
which was current during the first half of the 16th century, is 
shown by lithographed copies of two maps of the north, one 
dated 1482, the other 1532,'^ which are appended to this work. 
On the latter of these Greenland is still delineated as connected 
with Norway in the neighbourhood of Vardoehus. Tliis map, 
however, is grounded, according to the statement of the author 
in the introduction, among other sources, on the statements of 
two archbishops of the diocese of Nidaro,^ to which Greenland 
and Finmark belonged, and from whose inhabited parts 
expeditions were often undertaken both for trade and plunder, 
by land and sea, as far away as to the land of the Beormas. It 
is difficult to understand how with such maps of the distribution 
of land in the north the thought of the north-east passage could 
arise, if voices were not even then raised for an altogether 
opposite view, grounded partly on a survival of the old idea, 

^ It ought to be remarked here that the distances which Othere in that 
case traversed everj^ day, give a speed of saihng approximating to that 
which a common saihng vessel of the present day attains on an average. 
Tliis circumstance, which on a cursory examination may appear somewhat 
strange, finds its explanation when we consider that Othere sailed only 
with a favourable wind, and, when the wind was unfavourable, lay still. 
It appears that he usually sailed 70' to 80' in twenty-four hours, or perhaps 
rather 2)er diem. 

2 The maps are taken from Ptolemcei CoRmograplna latine reddita a Jac. 
Angela, citram mapparum gerente Nicoluo Donu Germano, Ulmce 1482, and 
from the above-quoted work of Jacobus Ziegler, printed in 1532. That 
portion of the latter which concerns the geography of Scandinavia is 
reprinted in Geografisha Seliionens Tidsbrift, B. I. Stockholm, 1878. 

3 These were the Dane, Erik Valkendorif, and the Norwegian, Olof Engel- 
brektsson. The Swedes, Johannes INIagnus, Archbishop of Upsala, and Peder 
Maonsson, Bishop of Vesteraos, also gave Ziegler important information 
regarding the northern countries. 


we may say the old popular belief, that Asia, Europe and 
Africa were surrounded by water, partly on stories of Indians 
having been driven by wind to Europe, along the north coast of 
Asia.^ To these was added in 1539 the map of the north by the 
Swedish bishop Olaus Magnus,^ which for the first time gave 
to Scandinavia an approximately correct boundary towards the 
north. Six hundred years,^ in any case, had run their course 

^ Of these much-discussed nan-atives concerning /^irf/ans— probably 
men from North Scandinavia, Russia, or North America, certainly not 
Japanese, Chinese, or Indians — who were driven by storms to the coasts 
of Germany, the tirst comes down to us from the time before the birth of 
Christ. For B.C. 62 Quintus Metellus Celer, "when as proconsul he 
governed Gaul, received as a present from the King of the Bseti [Pliny says 
of the Suevi] some Indians, and when he inquired how they came to those 
countries, he was informed that they had been driven by storm from the 
Indian Ocean to the coasts of Germany " (Pomponiiis Mela, lib. iii. cap. 5, 
after a lost work of Cornelius Nepos. Plinius, Hist. Nat., lib. ii. cap. 67). 

Of a similar occurrence in the middle ages, the learned ^neas Sylvius, 
afterwards Pope under the name of Pins II., gives the following account 
of his cosmography : — " I have myself read in Otto [Bishop Otto, of 
Freising], that in the time of the German Emperor an Indian vessel and 
Indian merchants were driven by storm to the German coast. Certain it 
was that, driven about by contrary winds, they came from the east, which 
had been by no means possible, if, as many suppose, the North Sea were 
unnavigable and frozen " (Pius II., Cosmographia in Asice et Europce eleganti 
descriptione, etc., Parisiis, 1509, leaf 2). Probably it is the same occurrence 
which is mentioned by the Spanish historian Gomara (Historia general de 
las Indias, Sarago§a, 1552-53), with the addition, tliat the Indians stranded 
at Liibeck in the time of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (1152-1190). 
Gomara also states that he met with the exiled Swedish Bishop Olaus 
Magnus, who positively assured him that it was possible to sail from 
Norway by the north along the coasts to China (French translation of the 
above-quoted work, Paris, 1587, leaf 12). An exceedingly instructive 
treatise on this subject is to be found in Aarboger for nordish Oldkyn- 
dighed og Historie, Kjobenhavn, 1880. It is written by F. Schiern, and 
entitled Om en etnologisk Gaadefra Oldtiden. 

'^ Olaus Magnus, Auslegung vnd Verklerung der neuen Happen von den 
alien Goittenreich, Venedig, 15.39. Now perhaps (according to a communi- 
cation from the Librarian-in-chief, G. E. Klemming) there is scarcely any 
copy of this edition of the map still in existence, but it is given unaltered 
in the 1567 Basel edition of Olaus Magnus, " De gentium septentrionalium 
variis conditionibus," &c. The edition of the same work printed at Rome 
in 1555, on the other hand, has a map, which differs a little from the 
original map of 1539. 

^ To interpret Nicolo and Antonio Zeno's travels towards the end of the 
fourteenth century, which have given rise to so much discussion, as Mr. Fr. 
Krarup has done, in such a way as if they had visited the shores of the 
Arctic Ocean and the White Sea, appears to me to be a very unfortunate 
guess, opposed to innumerable particulars in the narrative of the Zenos, 
and to the accompanying map, remarkable in more respects than one, 
which was first published at Venice in 1558, unfortunately in a somewhat 
"improved" form by one of Zeno's descendants. On the map there is 
the date MCCCLXXX. (Cf. Zeniernes Fcise til Norden, et Tolknings Fors'og, 
af Fr. Krarup, Kjobenhavn, 1878 ; R. H. Maior, The Voyages of the Venetian 
Brothers Nicolb and Antonio ZfHO,London,1873, and other works concerning 
these much-bewritten travels). 



MAP OF North Europe 



before Othere found a successor h\ Sir Hugh Willoughby ; and it 
is u'sual to pass by the former, -Jt^id to ascribe to the latter the 
honour of being the first in that* long succession of men who 
endeavoured to force a passage by the north-east from the 
Atlantic Ocean to China. 

Here however it ought to be remarked that while such maps 
as those of Ziegler were published in western Europe, other and 
better knowledge of the regions in question prevailed in the north. 
For it may be considered certain that JSIorwegians, Russians 
and Karelians often travelled in boats on peaceful or warlike 
errands, during the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth 
century, from the west coast of Norway to the White Sea, and 
in the opposite direction, although we find nothing on record 
regarding such journeys except the account that SiGlSMUND VON 
Herberstein 1 gives, in his famous book on Eussia, of the 
voyage of Gregory Istoma and the envoy David from the 
White Sea to Trondhjem in the year 1496. 

The voyage is inserted under the distinctive title Navigatio 
per Mare Glaciale^^ and the narrative begins with an explanation 
that Herbertstein got it from Istoma himself, who, when a youth, 
had learned Latin in Denmark. As the reasons for choosing the 
unusual, long, " but safe " circuitous route over the North Sea in 
preference to the shorter way that was usually taken, Istoma 
gives the disputes between Sweden and Russia, and the revolt 
of Sweden against Denmark, at the time when the voyage was 
undertaken (1496). After giving an account of his journey 
from Moscow to the mouth of the Dwina, he continues thus : — 

" After having gone on board of four boats, they kept first 
along the right bank of the ocean, where they saw very high 

^ The first edition, entitled Rcrum Moscoviticarum Commentarii, &c., 
Vienna, 1549, has three plates, and a map of great value for the former 
geography of Russia. It is, however, to judge by the copy in the Royal 
Library at Stockholm, partly drawn by hand, and much inferior to the 
map in the Italian edition of the following year {Comentari della 3foscovia 
et parimenfe deUa Russia, &c., per il Signor Sigisviondo libera Barone in 
Herbetsfaiii, Nelperg aivd Guetnhag, tradotti nuaomente di Latino in lingua 
nostra volgare Italiana, Venetia, 1550, with two plates and a map, with the 
inscription " per Giacomo Gastaldo cosmographo in Venetia, MDL "). Von 
Herbertstein visited Russia as ambassador from the Roman Emperor on 
two occasions, the first time in 1517, the second in 1525, and on the ground 
of these two journeys published a sketch of the country, by which it 
first became known to West-Europeans, and even for Russians themselves 
it forms an important original source of information regarding the state 
of civilisation of tlie empire of the__Czar in former times. Von Adelung 
enumerates in Kritisch-literarische IJbcrsicht der Reisenden in Russland> bis 
1700, St. Petersburg and Leipzig, 1846, eleven Latin, two Italian, nine 
German, and one Bohemian translation of this Avork. An English trans- 
lation has since been published by the Hakluyt Society. 

2 Von Herbertstein, first edition, leaf xxviii., in the second of the three 
separately-paged portions of the work. 


mountain peaks ; ^ and after having in this way travelled six- 
teen miles, and crossed an arm of the sea, they followed the 
western strand, leaving on their right the open sea, which like 
the neishbourinof mountains has its name from the river Petzora. 
They came here to a people called Fin-Lapps, who, though they 
dwell in low wretched huts by the sea, and live almost like wild 
beasts, in any case are said to be much more peaceable than the 
people who are called wild Lapps. Then, after they had passed 
the kind of the Lapps and sailed forward eighty miles, they came 
to the land, Nortpoden, which is part of the dominions of the 
King of Sweden. This region the Rutheni call Kayenska 
Selma, and the people they call Kayeni. After sailing thence 
along a very indented coast which jutted out to the right, they 
came to a jjeninsula, called the Holy Nose,^ consisting of a 
great rock, which like a nose projects into the sea. But in this 
there is a grotto or hollow which for six hours at a time 
swallows up water, and then with great noise and din casts out 
again in whirls the water which it had swallowed. Some call 
it the navel of the sea, others Charybdis. It is said that this 
whirlpool has such power, that it draws to itself ships and other 
things in its neighbourhood and swalloAvs them. Istoma said 
that he had never been in such danger as at that place, because 
the whirlpool drew the ship in which he travelled with such 
force, that it was only by extreme exertion at the oars that 
they could escape. After passing this Holy Nose they came to 
a rocky promontory, which they had to sail round. After having 
waited here some days on account of head winds, the skipper 
said : ' This rock, which ye see, is called Semes, and we shall 
not get so easily past it if it be not propitiated by some offer- 
ing.' Istoma said that he reproved the skipper for his foolish 
superstition, on which the reprimanded skipper said nothing 
more. They waited thus the fourth day at the place on ac- 
count of the stormy state of the sea, but after that the storm 
ceased, and the anchor was weighed. When the voyage was 
now continued with a favourable wind, the skij^pcr said : ' You 
laughed at my advice to propitiate the Semes rock, and con- 
sidered it a foolish superstition, but it certainly would have 
been impossible for us to get past it, if I had not secretly by 
night ascended the rock and sacrificed.' To the inquiry what 
he had offered, the skipper replied : ' I scattered oatmeal 
mixed with butter on the projecting rock which we saw.' 
As they sailed further they came to another great promontory, 
called Motka, resembling a peninsula. At the end of this 

^ An erroneous transposition of mountains seen in Norway, the north- 
eastern shore of the White Sea bein,^ low land. 

2 An unfortunate translation, which often occurs in old works, of 
Swjatoinos, "the holy headland." 


there was a castle, Barthus, which means vakfhus, watch-house, 
for there the Kmg of Norway keeps a guard to protect his 
frontiers. The interpreter said that this promontory was so 
long that it could scarcely be sailed round in eight days, on 
which account, in order not to be delayed in this way, they 
carried their boats and baggage with great labour on their 
shoulders over land for the distance of about half a mile. They 
then sailed on along the land of the Dikilopps or wild Lapps 
to a place which is called Dront (Trondhjem) and lies 200 
miles north of ^ the Dwina. And they said that the prince of 
Moscow used to receive tribute as far as to this jilace." 

The narrative is of interest, because it gives us an idea 
of the way in which men travelled along the north coast of 
Norway, four hundred years ago. It may possibly have had an 
indirect influence on the sending of Sir Hugh Willoughby's 
expedition, as the edition of Herbertstein's work printed 
at Venice in 1550 probably soon became known to the 
Venetian, Cabot, who, at that time, as Grand Pilot of England, 
superintended with great care the fitting out of the first 
English expedition to the north-east. 

There is still greater probability that the map of Scandinavia 
by Olaus Magnus, already mentioned, was known in England 
before 1553. This map is an expression of a view which before 
that time had taken root in the north, which, in opposition to 
the maps of the South-European cosmographers, assumed the 
existence of an open sea-communication in the north, between 
the Chinese Sea and the Atlantic, and which even induced 
GusTAF Vasa to attempt to bring about a north-east expedition. 
This unfortunately did not come to completion, and all that 
we know of it is contained in a letter to the Elector August of 
Saxony, from the Frenchman Hubert Jj.\nguet, who visited 
Sweden in 1554. In this letter, dated Isc April 1576, Lansuet 
says: — "When I was in Sweden twenty -two years ago, King 
Gustaf often talked with me about this sea route. At last he 
urged me to undertake a voyage in this direction, and promised 
to fit out two vessels with all that was necessary for a protracted 
voyage, and to man them with the most skilful seamen, who 
should do what I ordered. But I replied that I preferred 
journeys in inhabitated regions to the search for new unsettled 
lands." - If Gustaf Vasa had found a man fit to carry out 
his great plans, it might readily have happened that Sweden 

1 Instead of "north of," the true leading probnhly is "beyond" the 

'^ Hubert! Langueti Epistolce Secretce, Halse, 1699, i. 171. Compare also 
a paper by A. G. Ahlquist, in Ny Illustrerad Tidmnrj for 1875, p. 270. 


would have contended with England for the honour of oj)ening 
the long series of expeditions to the north-east.^ 

England's navigation is at present greater beyond comparison 
than that of any other country, but it is not of old date. In the 
middle of the sixteenth century it was still very inconsiderable, 
and mainly confined to coast voyages in Europe, and a few 
fishing expeditions to Iceland and Newfoundland.^ The great 
power of Spain and Portugal by sea, and their jealousy of other 
countries rendered it impossible at that period for foreign sea- 
farers to carry on traffic in the East-Asiatic countries, which 
had been sketched by Marco Polo with so attractive accounts of 
unheard-of richness in gold and jewels, in costly stuffs, in spices 
and perfumes. In order that the merchants of northern Europe 
might obtain a share of the profit, it appeared to be necessary 
to discover new routes, inaccessible to the armadas of the 
Pyrenean peninsula. Here lies the explanation of the zeal with 
which the English and the Dutch, time after time, sent out 
vessels, equipped at great expense, in search of a new way to 
India and China, either by the Pole, by the north-west, along 
the north coast of the new world, or by the north-east, along 
the north coast of the old. The voyages first ceased when the 
maritime supremacy of Spain and Portugal was broken. By 
none of them was the intended object gained, but it is remark- 
able that in any case they gave the first start to the development 
of England's ocean navigation. 

Sir Hugh Willoughby's in 1553 was thus the first maritime 
expedition undertaken on a large scale, which was sent from 

' The first to incite to voyages of discovery in the polar regions was 
an EngUshman, Robert Thorne, who long lived at Seville. Seeing all other 
countries were already discovered by Spaniards and Portuguese, he ui'ged 
Henry VIII. in 1527 to undertake discoveries in the north. After reaching 
the Pole (going sufficiently far north) one could turn to the east, and, first 
passing the land of the Tartars, get to China and so to Malacca, the East 
Indies, and the Cape of Good Hope, and thus circumnavigate the "whole 
world." One could also turn to the west, sail along the back of New- 
foundland, and return by the Straits of Magellan (Richard Hakluyt, The 
Principael Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries of the English Nation, &c., 
London, 1589, p. 250). Two years before, Paulus Jovius, on the ground 
of communications from an ambassador from the Russian Czar to Pope 
Clement VII., states that Russia is surrounded on the north by an immense 
ocean, by which it is possible, if one keeps to the right shore, and if no 
land comes between, to sail to China. (Pauli Jovii Opera Omnia, Basel, 
1578, third part, p. 88 ; the description of Russia, inserted there under the 
title " Libellus de legatione Basilii ad Clementem VII.," was printed for 
the first time at Rome in 1525.) 

^ In the year 1540, London, exclusive of the Royal Navy, had no more 
than four vessels, whose draught exceeded 120 tons (Anderson, Origin of 
Commerce, London, 1787, vol. ii. p. 67). Most of the coast towns of 
Scandinavia have thus in our days a greater sea-going fleet than London 
had at that time. 


(After a portrait in the Great Picture Hall, Greenwich.) 

To face page 49. 




England to f;ir distant seas. The equipment of the vessels 
was carried out with great care under the superintendence of 
the famous navigator, Sebastian Cabot, then an old man, who 
also gave the commander precise instructions how he should 
behave in the different incidents of the voyage. Some of these 
instructions now indeed appear rather childish,^ but others 
might still be used as rules for every well-ordered exploratory 
expedition. Sir Hugh besides obtained from Edward VI. an 
open letter A\Titten in Latin, Greek, and several other languages, 
in which it was stated that discoveries and the makinof of com- 


After a portrait in E. Vale Blake's Arctic Experiences, London, 1874.2 

mercial treaties were the sole objects ot the expedition ; and the 
people, with whom the expedition might come in contact, were 
requested to treat Sir Hugh Willoughby as they themselves 
would wish to be treated in case they should come to England. 
So sanguine were the promoters of the voyage of its success in 

^ For instance Article .SO: "Item, if you shall see them [the foreigners 
met with during the voyage] weare Lyons or Bears skinnes, hauing long 
bowes, and arrowes, be not afraid of that sight : for such be worne often- 
times more to feare strangers, then for any other cause." {Hakluyt, 1st 
edition, p. 262.) 

- The endeavour to procure for this work a copy of an original portrait 
of Cabot, stated to be in existence in England, has unfortunately not been 
crowned with success. 



reaching the Indian seas by this route, that they caused the 
ships that were placed at Sir Hugh Willoughby's disposal to be 
sheathed with lead in order to protect them from the attacks of 
the teredo and other worms. ^ These vessels were : — 

1. The Bona Esperanza, admiral of the fleet, of 120 tons 
burden, on board of which was Sir Hugh Willoughby himself, 
as captain general of the fleet. The number of persons in this 
ship, including Willoughby, the master of the vessel, William 
Getferson, and six merchants, was thirty -five. 

2. The Edivard Bmiaventure, of 160 tons burden, the command 
of which was given to Richard Chancelor, captain and pilot 
major of the fleet. There were on board this vessel fifty men, 
including two merchants. Among the crew whose names are 
given in Hakluyt we find the name of Stephen Burrough, 
afterwards renowned in tlie history of the north-east passage, 
and that of Arthur Pet. 

3. The Bona Confide-ntia, of ninety tons, under command of 
Cornelius Durfoorth, with twenty-eight men, including three 

The expense of fitting out the vessels amounted to a sum 
of £6,000, divided into shares of £25. Sir Hugh Willoughby 
was chosen commander " both by reason of his goodly personage 
(for he was of tall stature) as also for his singular skill in the 
services of warre." ^ In order to ascertain the nature of the 
lands of the east, two " Tartars " who were employed at the 
royal stables were consulted, but without any information 
being obtained from them. The ships left Ratchffe the -f^th 
May 1553.^ They were towed down by the boats, "the 
mariners being apparelled in watchet or skie coloured cloth," 
with a favourable wind to Greenwich, where the court then was. 
The King being unwell could not be present, but " the courtiers 
came running out, and the common people flockt together, 
standing very thicke upon the shoare ; the Privie Consel, they 
lookt out at the windowes of the court, and the rest ran up to 
the toppes of the towers ; the shippes hereupon discharge their 
ordinance, and shoot off their pieces after the maner of warre, and 
of the sea, insomuch that the tops of the hilles sounded there- 
with, the valleys and the waters gave an echo, and the mariners 

^ According to Clement Adams' account of the voyage, {Halcluyt, 1st 
edition, p. 271.) 

2 " Cum ob corporis f ormam (erat enim procerse staturge) turn ob singu- 
larem in re bellica industriam." Clement Adams' account. — Hakluyt, 
p. 271. 

3 Ten days earlier or later are of very great importance with respect to 
the state of the ice in summer in the Polar seas. I have, therefore, in 
quoting from the travels of my predecessors, reduced the old style to 
the new. 


tliey shouted in such sort, that the skie rang again with the noise 
thereof." ^ All was joy and triumph ; it seemed as if men fore- 
saw that the greatest maritime power, the history of the world 
can show, was that day born. 

The voyage itself was, however, very disastrous for Sir Hugh 
and many of his companions. After sailing along the east coast 
of England and Scotland the three vessels crossed in company 
to Norway, the coast of which came in sight the ffth July in 
66° N. L, A landing was effected and thirty small houses were 
found, whose inhabitants had fle;!, probably from fear of the 
foreigners. The region was called, as was afterwards ascertained, 
" Halgeland," and was just that part of Norway from which 
Othere began his voyage to the White Sea. Hence they sailed 
on along the coast. On the J^rS^ they anchored in a harbour, 
" Stanfew " (perhaps Steenfjord on the west coast of Lofoten), 
where they found a numerous and friendly population, with no 
articles of commerce, however, but dried fish and train oil. In tlie 
middle of September the Edivard Bonaventure, at Senjen during 
a storm, parted company with the two other vessels. These now 
endeavoured to reach Vardoehus, and therefore sailed backwards 
and forwards in different directions, during which they came 
among others to an uninhabited, ice-encompassed land, along 
whose coast the sea was so shallow that it was impossible for 
a boat to land. It was said to be situated 480' east by north 
from Senjen, in 72° N. L.^ Hence they sailed first to the north, 
then to the south-east. Thus they reached the coast of Russian 
Lapland, where, on the f |th September they found a good 
harbour, in which Sir Hugh determined to pass the winter. 
The harbour was situated at the mouth of the river Arzina 
" near Kegor." Of the further fate of Sir Hugh Willoughby and 

^ " Vibrantur bombardarum fulmina, TartarifB volvuntur nubes, Mavtem 
sonant crepitacula, reboant summa montium juga, reboant valles, reboant 
undffi, claraque Nautarum percellit sydera clamor." Clement Adams' 
account. — Hakluyt, p. 272. 

- At the time when the whale-fishing at Spitzbergen commenced, 
Thomas Edge, a captain of one of the Muscovy Company's vessels, endea- 
voured to show that the land which Willoughby discovered while sailing 
about after parting company with Cliancelor was Spitzbergen (Purchas, 
iii. p. 462). The statement, which was evidently called forth by the wish 
to monopolise the Spitzbergen whale-fishing for England, can be shown 
to be incorrect. It has also for a long time back been looked upon as 
groundless. Later inquirers have instead supposed that the land wliich 
Willoughby saw was Gooseland, on Novaya Zemlya. For reasons which 
want of space prevents me from stating here, this also does not appear to 
me to be possible. On the other hand, I consider it highly probable that 
" Willoughby's Land" was Kolgujev Island, which is surrounded by 
shallow sand-banks. Its latitude lias indeed in that case been stated 2° 
too high, but such errors are not impossible in the determinations of the 
oldest explorers. 

E 2 

'/ / '/ / /' .^_^^ 

o o 

2 -a 


his sixty-two companions, we know only that during the course 
of the winter they all perished, doubtless of scurvy. The journal 
of the commander ends with the statement that immediately 
after the arrival of the vessels three men were sent south-south- 
west, three west, and three south-east to search if they could 
find people, but that they all returned "without finding of 
people or any similitude of habitation." The following, 
year Russian fishermen found at the wintering station the ships 
and dead bodies of those who had thus perished, together with 
the journal from which the extract given above is taken, and a 
will witnessed by Willoughby,^ from which it appeared that he 
himself and most of the company of the two ships were alive 
in January, 1554.^ The two vessels, together with Willoughby's 
corpse, were sent to England in 1555 by the merchant George 

With regard to the position of Arzina it appears from a state- 
ment in Anthony Jenkinson's first voyage [Hahluyt, p. 335) that 
it took seven days to go from Vardoehus to Swjatoinos, and that 
on the sixth he passed the mouth of the river where Sir Hugh 
Willoughby wintered. At a distance from Vardoehus of about 
six-sevenths of the way between that town and Swjatoinos, 
there debouches into the Arctic Ocean, in 68° 20' N. L. and 38° 
30' E. L. from Greenwich, a river, which in recent maps is called 
the Varzina. It was doubtless at the mouth of this river that 
two vessels of the first North-east Passage Expedition wintered 
with so unfortunate an issue for the oflicers and men. 

The third vessel, the Edward Bonavcnture, commanded by 
Chancelor, had on the contrary a successful voyage, and one 
of great importance for the commerce of the world. As has 
been already stated, Chancelor was separated from his com- 
panions during a storm in August. He now sailed alone to 
Vardoehus. After waiting there seven days for Sir Hugh 
Willoughby, he set out again, resolutely determined " either 
to bring that to passe which was intended, or else to die 
the death;" and though " certaine Scottishmen" earnestly 
attempted to persuade him to return, " he held on his course 
towards that unknown part of the world, and sailed so farre that 
hee came at last to the place where hee found no night at all, 
but a continuall light and brightnesse of the sunne shining 

1 The testator was Gabriel Willoughby, who, as merchant, sailed in the 
commander's vessel. 

2 Halduyt, p. 500 ; Purchas, iii. p. 249, and in the margin of p. 463. 

•* It is of liim that it is narrated in a letter written from Moscow by 
Henrie Lane, that the Czar at an entertainment " called them to his table, 
to receave each one a cuppe from his hand to drinke, and tooke into his 
hand Master George Killingworths beard, which reached over the table, 
and pleasantly delivered it the Metropolitane, who seeming to bless it, sad 
in liusse, 'this is Gods gift.' " — Halduyt, p. 500. 


clearly upon the huge and mighty sea." ^ In this way he 
finally reached the mouth of the river Dwina in the White Sea, 
where a small monastery was then standing at the place where 
Archangel is now situated. By friendly treatment he soon won 
the confidence of the inhabitants, who received him with great 
hospitality. They, however, immediately sent otF a courier to 
.inform Czar Ivan Vasilievitsch of the remarkable occurrence. 
The result was that Chancelor was invited to the court at 
Moscow, where he and his companions passed a part of the 
winter, well entertained by the Czar. The following summer he 
returned with his vessel to England. Thus a commercial con- 
nection was brought about, which soon became of immense 
importance to both nations, and within a few years gave 
rise to a number of voyages, of which I cannot here give any 
account, as they have no connection with the history of the 
North-east Passage.'' 

Great geographer or seaman Sir Hugh Willoughby clearly 
was not, but his and his followers' voluntary self-sacrifice and 
undaunted courasfe have a stronar claim on our admiration. Incal- 
culable also was the influence which the voyages of Willoughby 
and Chancelor had upon English commerce, and on the develop- 
ment of the whole of Russia, and of the north of Norway. From 
the monastery at the mouth of the Dwina a flourishing com- 
mercial town has arisen, and a numerous population has settled 
on the coast of the Polar Sea, formerly so desolate. Already 
there is regular steam and telegraphic communication to the 
confines of Russia. The people of Vardoe can thus in a few 
hours get accounts of what has happened not only in Paris or 
London, but also in New York, the Indies, the Cape, Australia, 
Brazil, &c., while a hundred years ago the post came thither only 
once a year. It was then that a journal-loving commandant took 
the step, giving evidence of strong self-command, of not "devour- 
ing " the post at once, but reading the newspapers day by day 
a year after they were published. All this is now different, and 

* As tlie Dwina lies to the south of Vardoehus, these remarks probably 
relate to an earlier part of the voyage than that which is referred to in 
the narrative. 

- Writings on these voyages are exceedingly numerous. An account of 
them was published for the first time in Hakluyt, The prineiixtel Nmnga- 
tions, Voiacjes, and Discoveries of the English Nation, &c., London, 1589 ; 
Ordinances, King Edward's Pass, c&c, p. 259 ; Copy of Sir Hugh Wil- 
loughbt/s Journal, with a List of all the Memhers of the Expedition, p. 265 ; 
Clement Adams' Account of Chancelor'' s Voyage, p. 270, &c. The same 
documents were afterwards printed in Purchas' Pilgrimage, iii. p. 211. 
For those who wish to study the literature of this subject further, I may 
refer to Fr. von Adelung, Kritisch-literdrische Ubersicht der Re'isenden in 
Russland, St. Petersburg and Leipzig, 1846, p. 200 ; and I. Hamel, Trades- 
cant der Acltere 161S in Russland, St. Petersburg and Leipzig, 1847. 


yet men are not satisfied. The interests of commerce and the 
fisheries require railway communication with the rest of Europe. 
That will certainly come in a few years, nor will it be long 
before the telegraph has spun its net, and regular steam 
communication has commenced along the coast of the Arctic 
Ocean far beyond the sea which was opened by Chancelor to 
the commerce of the world. 


Departure from Maosoe — Gooseland — State of the Ice — The Vessels of 
the Expedition assemble at Chabarova — The Samoyed town there — 
The Church — Russians and Samoyeds — Visit to Chabarova in 1875 — 
Purchase of Samoyed Idols — Dress and Dwellings of the Samoyeds 
— Comparison of the Polar Races — Sacrificial Places and Samoyed 
Grave on Vaygats Island visited — Former accounts of the Samoyedi? 
— Their place in Ethnography. 

The Vega was detained at Maosoe by a steady head wind, 
rain, fog, and a very heavy sea till the evening of the 25th July. 
Though the weather was still very unfavourable, we then 
weighed anchor, impatient to proceed on our voyage, and 
steamed out to sea through Mageroe Sound. The Lena also 
started at the same time, having received orders to accompany 
the Vega as far as possible, and, in case separation could not be 
avoided, to steer her course to the point, Chabarova in Yugor 
Schar, which I had fixed on as the rendezvous of the four 
vessels of the exj)edition. The first night, during the fog that 
then prevailed, we lost sight of the Lena, and did not see her 
again until we had reached the meeting place. 

The course of the Vega was shaped for South Goose Cape. 
Although, while at Tromsoe, I had resolved to enter the Kara 
Sea through Yugor Schar, the most southerly of the sounds 
which lead to it — so northerly a course was taken, because 
experience has shown that in the beginning of slimmer so 
much ice often drives backwards and forwards in the bay 
between the west coast of Vaygats Island and the mainland, 
tliat navigation in these waters is rendered rather difficult. 
This is avoided by touching Novaya Zemlya first at Gooseland, 
and thence following the western shore of this island and Vaygats 
to Yugor Schar. Now this precaution was unnecessary; for 
the state of the ice was singularly favourable, and Yugor Schar 
was reached without seeing a trace of it. 

During our passage from Norway to Gooseland we w^ere 
favoured at first with a fresh breeze, which, however, fell as we 


aiiproached Novaya Zemyla; this notwithstanding, we made 
rapid progress under steam, and without incident, except that 
the excessive rolling of the vessel caused the overturn of some 
boxes containing instruments and books, fortunately without 
any serious damage ensuing. 

Land was sighted on the 28th July at 10.30 P.M. It was 
the headland which juts out from the south of Gooseland in 
70° 33' N. L. and 51° 54' E. L. (Greenwich). Gooseland is a low 
stretch of coast, occupied by grassy flats and innumerable 
small 'lakes, which projects from the mainland of Novaya 
Zemlya between 72° 10' and 71° 30' N. L. The name is a trans- 
lation of the Russian Gusinnaja Semlja, and arises from the 
large number of geese and swans (Cygnus Bcivickii, Yarr.) which 
breed in that region. The geese commonly place their ex- 
ceedingly inconsiderable nests on little hillocks near the small 
lakes which are scattered over the whole of Gooseland ; the 
powerful swans, which are very difficult of approach by the 
hunter, on the other hand breed on the open plain. The swans' 
nests are so large that they may be seen at a great distance. 
The building material is moss, which is plucked from the 
ground within a distance of two metres from the nest, which 
by the excavation which is thus produced, is surrounded by a 
sort of moat. The nest itself forms a truncated cone, 0'6 metre 
high and 2"4 metres in diameter at the bottom. In its upper 
part there is a cavity, 0'2 metre deep and 0"6 metre broad, in 
which the four large grayish-white eggs of the bird are laid. 
The female hatches the eggs, but the male also remains in the 
neighbourhood of the nest. Along with the swans and geese, a 
large number of waders, a couple of species of Lestris, an owl 
and other birds breed on the plains of Gooseland, and a few 
guillemots or gulls upon the summits of the strand cliffs. The 
avifauna along the coast here is besides rather poor. At least 
there are none of the rich fowd-fells, which, with their millions 
of inhabitants and the conflicts and quarrels which rage amongst 
them, commonly give so peculiar a character to the coast 
cliffs of the high north. I first met with true loom and 
kittiwake fells farther north on the southern shore of Besim- 
manaja Bay. 

Although Gooseland, seen from a distance, appears quite level 
and low, it yet rises gradually, with an undulating surface, from 
the coast towards the interior, to a grassy plain about sixty metres 
above the sea-level, with innumerable small lakes scattered over 
it. The plain sinks towards the sea nearly everywhere with a 
steep escarpment, three to lifteen metres high, below which 
there is formed during the course of the winter an immense 
snowdrift or so-called " snow-foot," which does not melt until 
late in the season. There are no true glaciers here, nor any 


erratic hlocks, to show that circumstances loere different in former 
times. Nor are any snow-covered mountain- tops visible from 
tlie sea. It is therefore possible at a certain season of the 
year (during the whole of the month of August) to sail from 
Norway to Novaya Zemlya, make sporting excursions there, 
and return without having seen a trace of ice or snow. This 
holds good indeed only of the low-lying part of the south island, 
but in any case it shows how erroneous the prevailing idea of 
the natural state of Novaya Zeinlya is. By the end of June 
or beginning of July the greater part of Gooseland is nearly 
free of snow, and soon after the Arctic flov/er-world develops 
during a few weeks all its splendour of colour. Dry, favourably 
situated spots are now covered by a low, but exceedingly rich 
flower bed, concealed by no high grass or bushes. On moister 
places true grassy turf is to be met with, which, at least when 
seen from a distance, resembles smiling meadows. 

In consequence of the loss of time which had been caused 
by the delay in sailing along the coast of Norway, and our stay 
at Maosoe, we were unable to land on this occasion, but 
immediately continued our course along the west coast of 
Novaya Zemlya towards Yugor Schar, the weather being for 
the most part glorious and calm. The sea was completely 
free of ice, and the land bare, with the exception of some small 
snow-fields concealed in the valleys. Here and there too along 
the steep strand escarpments were to be seen remains of the 
winter's snow-foot, which often, when the lower stratum of 
air was strongly heated by the sun, were magnified by a strong 
mirage, so that, when seen from a distance, they resembled 
immense glaciers terminating perpendicularly towards the sea. 
Coming farther south the clear weather gave us a good view 
of Vaygats Island. It appears, when seen from the sea off the 
west coast, to form a level grassy plain, but when we approached 
Yugor Schar, low ridges were seen to run along tlie east side 
of the island, which are probably the last ramifications of the 
north spur of Ural, known by the name of Paj-koi. 

When we were off the entrance to Yugor Schar, a steamer 
was sighted. After much guessing, the Fraser was recognised. I 
was at first very uneasy, and feared that an accident had occurred, 
as the course of the vessel was exactly the opposite of that 
which had been fixed beforehand, but found, when Captain 
Nilsson soon after came on board, that he had only come out 
to look for us. The Express and the Fraser had been waiting 
for us at the appointed rendezvous since the 20th. They had 
left Vardoe on the 13th, and during the passage had met with 
as little ice as ourselves. The Vega and Fraser now made 
for the harbour at Chabarova, where they anchored on the 
evening of the 30tli July with a depth of fourteen metres and 


a clay bottoin. The Lena was still wanting. We feared that 
the little steamer had had some difficulty in keeping afloat 
in the sea which had been encountered on the other side of 
North Cape. A breaker had even dashed over the side of 
the larger Vega and broken in pieces one of the boxes which 
were fastened to the deck. Our fears were unwarranted. The 
Lena had done honour to her builders at Motala works, and 
behaved well in the heavy sea. The delay had been caused by 
a compass deviation, which, on account of the slight horizontal 
intensity of the magnetism of the earth in these northern 
latitudes, was sfreater than that obtained durino- the examina- 
tion made before the departure of the vessel from Gothenburg. 
On the 31st the Lena anchored alongside the other vessels, and 
thus the whole of our little Polar Sea squadron was collected at 
the appointed rendezvous. 

Chabarova is a little village, situated on the maiidand, south 
of Yugor Schar, west of the mouth of a small river in which at 
certain seasons fish are exceedingly abundant. During summer 
the place is inhabited by a number of Samoyeds, who pasture 
their herds of reindeer on Vaygats Island and the surrounding 
tundra, and by some Russians and Russianised Fins, who come 
hither from Pustosersk to carry on barter with the Samoyeds, 
and with their help to fish and hunt in the neighbouring sea. 
During winter the Samoyeds drive their herds to more 
southern regions, and the merchants carry their wares to 
Pustosersk, Mesen, Archangel, and other places. Thus it has pro- 
bably gone on for centuries back, but it is only in comparatively 
recent times that fixed dwellings have been erected, for they are 
not mentioned in the accounts of the voyages of the Dutch in 
these regions. 

The village, or " Samoyed town " as the walrus-hunters 
grandiosely call it, consists, like other great towns, of two 
portions, the town of the rich — some cabins built of wood, 
with flat turf-covered roofs — and the quarter of the common 
people, a collection of dirty Samoyed tents. There is, besides, a 
little church, where, as at several places along the shore, votive 
crosses have been erected. The church is a wooden building, 
divided by a partition wall into two parts, of which the inner, 
the church proper, is little more than two and a half metres in 
height and about five metres square. On the eastern wall during 
the time the region is inhabited, there is a large number of 
isacred pictures placed there for the occasion by the hunters. One 
of them, which represented St. Nicholas, was very valuable, the 
material being embossed silver gilt. Before the lamps hung 
large dinted old copper lamps or rather light-holders, resem- 
bling inverted Byzantine cupolas, suspended by three chains. 
They were set full of numerous small, and some few thick wax 




lights which were lighted on the occasion of our visit. Right 
above our landing-place there were lying a number of sledges 
laden with goods which the Russian merchants had procured 
by barter, and which were to be conveyed to Pustosersk the 
following autumn. The goods consisted mainly of train oil 
and the skins of the mountain fox, common fox, Polar bear, 
glutton, reindeer, and seal. The bears' skins had often a very- 
close, white winter coat, but they were spoiled by the head and 
paws having been cut off. Some of the wolf skins which they 
showed us were verv close and fine. The merchants had besides 



After a photograph by L. Palander. 

collected a considerable stock of goose quills, feathers, down, 
and ptarmigans' wings. For what purpose these last are used 
I could not learn. I was merely informed that they would be 
sold in Archangel. Perhaps they go thence to the dealers in 
fashions in Western Europe, to be afterwards used as orna- 
ments on our ladies' hats. Ptarmigans' wings were bought as 
long ago as 1611 at Pustosersk by Englishmen.^ 

^ " Letter of Richard Finch to Sir Tliomas Siiiitli, Governor ; and to the 
rest of the Worshipful Companie of P^nglish Merchants, trading into 
Russia." — Purchas, iii. p. 534. 


At Ihe same time I saw, among the stocks of the merchants, 
walrus tusks and lines of walrus hide. It is noteworthy that 
these wares are already mentioned in Othere's narrative. 

As I was not myself sufficiently master of the Russian 
language, I requested Mr. Serebrenikoff to make inquiries on the 
spot, regarding the mode of life and domestic economy of the 
Russians in the neighbourhood, and I have received from him 
the following communication on the subject : — 

" The village consists of several cabins and tents. In the 
cabins nine Russian householders live with their servants, who 
are Samoyeds.^ The Russians bring hither neither their 
wives nor children. In the tents the Samoyeds live with their 
families. The Russians are from the village Pustosersk on the 
Petchora river, from which they set out immediately after 
Easter, arriving at Chabarova about the end of May, after 
having traversed a distance of between 600 and 700 versts. 
During their stay at Chabarova they employ themselves in the 
management of reindeer, in catching whales, and in carrying 
on barter with the Samoyeds. They bring with them from 
home all their household articles and commercial wares on 
sledges drawn by reindeer, and as there is a poor ruinous chapel 
there, they bring also pictures of St. Nicholas and other saints. 
The holy Nicholas also figures as a shareholder in a company 
for the capture of whales. Part of their reindeer is left during 
summer on Vaygats, and after their arrival at Chabarova they 
still pass over on the ice to that island. Towards the close of 
August, when the cold commences, the reindeer are driven 
across Yugor Schar from Vaygats to the mainland. About the 
1st October, old style, the Russians return with their reindeer 
to Pustosersk. Vaygats Island is considered by them to afford 
exceedingly good pasturage for reindeer ; they therefore allow a 
number of them to winter on the island under the care of some 
Samoyed families, and this is considered the more advan- 
tageous, as the reindeer there are never stolen. Such thefts, on 
the contrary, are often committed by the Samoyeds on the 

1 Mr. Serebrenikoff writes Samodin instead of Samoyed, considering the 
latter name incorrect. For Samoyed means "self-eater," while Samodin 
denotes "an individual," "one who cannot be mistaken for any other," 
and, as the Samoyeds never were cannibals, Mr. Serebrenikoff gives a 
preference to the latter name, which is used by the Eussians at Chabarova, 
and appears to be a literal translation of the name wliich the Samoyeds 
give themselves. I consider it probable, however, that the old tradition 
of man-eaters (androphagi) living in the north, which originated with 
Herodotus, and was afterwards universally adopted in the geographical 
literature of the middle ages, reappears in a Russianised form in the name 
"Samoyed." (Compare what is quoted further on from Giles Fletcher's 


mainland. For thirty years back the Siberian plague has 
raged severely among the reindeer. A Russian informed me 
that he now owned but two hundred, while some years ago he 
had a thousand ; and this statement was confirmed by the other 
Russians. Men too are attacked by this disease. Two or three 
days before our arrival a Samoyed and his wife had eaten the 
flesh of a diseased animal, in consequence of which the woman 
died the following day, and the man still lay ill, and, as the 
people on the spot said, would not probably survive. Some of 
the Samoyeds are considered rich, for instance the ' eldest ' 
(starschina) of the tribe, who owns a thousand reindeer. The 
Samoyeds also employ themselves, like the Russians, in fishing. 
During winter some betake themselves to Western Siberia, 
where ' corn is cheap,' and some go to Pustosersk. 

" The nine Russians form a company (artell) for whale-fishing. 
There are twenty-two shares, two of which fall to the holy 
Nicholas, and the other twenty are divided among the share- 
holders. The company's profit for the fishing season commonly 
amounts to 1,500 or 2,000 pood train oil of the white whale 
[Beluga), but this season there had been no fishing on account 
of disagreements among the shareholders. For in the Russian 
' artell ' the rule is, ' equal liability, equal rights,' and as the 
rich will never comply with the first part of the rule, it was 
their arrogance and greed which caused contention here, as 
everywhere else in the world. 

" Neither the Russians nor the Samoyeds carry on any agri- 
culture. The former buy meal for bread from Irbit. The price 
of meal varies ; this season it costs one rouble ten copecks per 
pood in Pustosersk. Salt is now brought from Norway to 
Mesen, where it costs fifty to sixty copecks per pood. The Samo- 
yeds buy nearly everything from the Russians. There were 
many inquiries for gunpowder, shot, cheap fowling-pieces, rum, 
bread, sugar, and culinary vessels (teacups, &c.). The Samo- 
yed women wear clothes of different colours, chiefly red. In 
exchange for the goods enumerated above there maybe obtained 
fish, ti'ain oil, reindeer skins, walrus tusks, and furs, viz., the skins 
of the red, white, and brown fox, wolf, Polar bear, and glutton. 

" The Russians in question are ' Old Believers,' but the 
difference between them and the orthodox consists merely in 
their not smoking tobacco, and in their making the sign of the 
cross with the thumb, the ring finger, and the little finger, 
while the orthodox Russians, on the other hand, make it with 
the thumb, the f<jrefinger, and the middle finger. All Samo- 
yeds are baptised into the orthodox faith, but they worship their 
old idols at the same time. They travel over a thousand versts 
as pilgrims to their sacrificial places. There are several such 
places on Vaygats, where their idols are to be found. The 


Russians call these idols 'bolvany.'^ Both the Russians and 
Samoyeds are very tolerant in regard to matters of faith. The . 
Russians, for instance, say that the Samoyeds attribute to their 
' bolvans ' the same importance which they themselves attach 
to their sacred pictures, and find in this nothing objectionable. 
The Samoyeds have songs and sagas, relating among other 
things to their migrations. 

" The Samoyed has one or more wives ; even sisters may 
marry the same man. Marriage is entered upon without 
any solemnity. The wives are considered by the men as having 
equal rights with themselves, and are treated accordingly, which 
is very remarkable, as the Russians, like other Christian nations, 
consider the woman as in certain respects inferior to the man." 

I visited the place for the first time in the beginning of 
August, 1875. It was a Russian holiday, and, while still a 
long way off at sea, we could see a large number of Russians 
and Samoyeds standing in groups on the beach. Coming 
nearer we found them engaged in playing various different 
games, and though it was the first time in tlie memory of 
man that European gentlemen had visited their " town," they 
scarcely allowed themselves to be more disturbed in their occu- 
pation than if some stranger Samoyeds had suddenly joined 
their company. Some stood in a circle and by turns threw a 
piece of iron, shaped somewhat like a marlinspike, to the 
ground ; the art consisting in getting the sharp end to strike it 
just in front of rings placed on the ground, in such a way that 
the piece of iron remained standing. Others were engaged in 
playing a game resembling our nine-pins ; others, again, in 
wrestling, &c. The Russians and Samoyeds played with each 
other without distinction. The Samoyeds, small of stature, 
dirty, with matted, unkempt hair, were clad in dirty summer 
clothes of skin, sometimes with a showy-coloured cotton shirt 
drawn over them ; the Russians (jirobably originally of the 
Finnish race and descendants of the old Beormas) tall, well- 
grown, with long hair shining with oil, ornamentally parted, 
combed, and frizzled, and held together by a head band, or 
covered with a cap resembling that shown in the accompanying 
woodcut, were clad in long variegated blouses, or " mekkor," 
fastened at the waist with a belt. Notwithstanding the feigned 
indifference shown at first, which was evidently considered good 
manners, we Avere received in a friendly way. We Avere first 
invited to try our luck and skill in the game in turn with the 
rest, when it soon appeared, to the no small gratification of our 

■^ This name, wliicli properly denotes a coarse likeness, lias passed into 
the Swedish, the word hidvan being one of the few which that language 
has borrowed from the Eussian. 




liosts, that we were quite incapable of entering into com- 
petition either with Russian or Samoyed. Thereupon one of 
the Russians invited us to enter his cabin, where we were enter- 
tained Avith tea, Russian wheateu cakes of unfermented dough, 
and brandy. Some small presents were given us with a naive 
notification of what would be welcome in their stead, a notifi- 
cation which I with pleasure complied with as far as my resources 
permitted. A complete unanimity at first prevailed between 
our Russian and Samoyed hosts, but on the following day a 
sharp dispute was like to arise because the former invited one 
of us to drive with a reindeer 
team standing in the neighbour- 
hood of a Russian hut. The 
Samoyeds were much displeased 
on this account, but declared at 
the same time, as well as they 
could by signs, that they them- 
selves were willing to drive us, 
if we so desired, and they 
showed that they were serious 
in their declaration by there 
and then breaking off the 
quarrel in order to take a short 
turn with their reindeer teams 
at a rapid rate among the tents. 
The Samoyed sleigh is in- 
tended both for winter travel- 
ling on the snow, and for 
summer travelling on the 
mosses and water-drenched 
bogs of the tundra. They are, 
therefore, constructed quite dif- 
ferently from the "akja" of 
the Lapp. As the woodcut 
on p. 66 shows, it completely 
resembles a high sledge, the 
carriage consisting of a low and 

short box, which, in convenience, style, and warmth, cannot 
be compared to the well-known equipage of the Lapps. We 
have here two quite different types of sleighs. The Lapp 
"akja" appears from time immemorial to have been peculiar 
to the Scandinavian north ; the high sleigh, on the contrary, to 
northern Russia. Thus we find "akjas" of the kind still in 
common use, delineated in Olaus Magnus (Rome edition, 1555, 
page 598) ; Samoyed sleighs, again, in the first works 
we have on those regions, for instance, in Huyghen van 
Linschoten's SchijJ-vaert van hy Noorden, &c., Amsterdam, 



One-eighth of natural size. 




1601, as a side drawing on the principal map. Such high 
sleighs are also used on the Kaniu peninsula, on Yalmal, 
and in Western Siberia. The sleighs of the Chukchis, on 
the other hand, as will be seen by a drawing given farther 
on, are lower, and thus more resemble our " kaelkar," or 

The neighbourhood of the tents swarmed with small black 
or white long-haired dogs, with pointed nose and pointed ears. 
They are used exclusively for tending the herds of reindeer, and 
appear to be of the same race as the " renvallhund," the reindeer 
dog. At several places on the coast of the White Sea, how- 
ever, dogs are also employed as beasts of draught, but according 


After a drawing by Hj. Theel. 

to information which I procured before my departure for 
Spitzbergen in 1872 — it was then under discussion whether 
dogs should be used during the projected ice journey — these 
are of a different race, larger and stronger than the Lapp or 
Samoyed dogs proper. 

Immediately after the Vega came to anchor, T went on land 
on this occasion also ; in the first place with a view to take some 
solar altitudes, in order to ascertain the chronometer's rate of 
going ; for during the voyage of 1875 I had had an opportunity 
of determining the position of this place as accurately as is 




possible with the common reflecting circle and chronometer, 
with the following result : — 

rri ni 1 X r^i I i Latitude 69° 38' 50". 

ihe Lluirch at Lliabarova < ^ •*. j cno in' An" tt' f n • i 

I Longitude 60 19 49 E. from Greenwich. 

When the observations were finished I hastened to renew my 
acquaintance with my old friends on the spot. I also endea- 
voured to purchase from the Samoyeds dresses and household 
articles ; but as I had not then with rae goods for barter, and 
ready money appeared to be of small account with them, prices 
were very higli ; for instance, for a lady's beautiful " pesk," 


.•Vftcr original in the Northern Museum, Stockholm. 

twenty roubles ; for a cap with brass ornaments, ten roubles ; 
for a pair of boots of reindeer skin, two roubles ; for copper 
ornaments for hoods, tw'o roubles each ; and so on. 

As I knew that the Samoyeds during their wanderings 
always carry idols with them, I asked them whether they could 
not sell me some. All at first answered in the negative. It 
was evident that they were hindered from complying with my 
requests partly by superstition, partly by being a little ashamed, 
before the West European, of the nature of their gods. The 
metallic lustre of some rouble pieces which I had procured in 
Stockholm, however, at last induced an old woman to set aside 

F 2 




all fears. She went to one of the loaded sledges, which appeared 
to be used as magazines, and searched for a long time till she 
got hold of an old useless skin boot, from which she drew a fine 
skin stocking, out of which at last four idols appeared. After 
further negotiations they were sold to me at a very high price. 
They consisted of a miniature " pesk," with belt, without body ; a 
skin doll thirteen centimetres long, with face of brass ; another 
doll, with a bent piece of copper plate for a nose ; and a stone, 
wrapped round with rags and hung with brass plates, a corner 
of the stone forming the countenance of the human figure it 
was intended to resemble. 

Sa>mohdartim^trahisaramifertsfrotyaBis infidenHum-^ 
Nee non Idolgrnm ah ijjasm cultorum ejfgks. 


After an old Dutch engravinK. 

More finely-formed gods, dolls pretty well made, with bows 
forged of iron, I have seen, but have not had the good fortune 
to get possession of. In the case now in question the traffic 
was facilitated by the circumstance that the old witch, Anna 
Petrovna, who sold her gods, was baptised, which was naturally 
taken advantage of by me to represent to her that it was wrong 
for her as a Christian to worship such trash as " bolvans," and 
the necessity of immediately getting rid of them. But my argu- 
ments, at once sophistic and egoistic, met with disapproval, both 
from the Russians and Samoyeds standing round, inasmuch as 




they declared that on the whole there was no great difference 
between the " bolvan " of the Samoyed and the sacred picture 
of the Christian. It would even appear as if the Russians 
themselves considered the " bolvans" as representatives of some 
sort of Samoyed saints in the other world. 

When the traffic in gods was finished, though not to my full 
satisfaction, because I thought I had got too little, we were 
invited by one of the Russians, as in 1875, to drink tea in his 
cabin. This consisted of a lobby, and a room about four metres 
square, and scarcely two metres and a half high. One corner 
was occupied by a large chimney, at the side of which was the 
very low door, and right opposite the window opening, under 
which were placed some chests, serving as tea-table for the 
occasion. Along the two remaining sides of the room there 
were fastened to the wall sleeping places of boards covered with 
reindeer skin. The window appeared to have been formerly 


One-third of natural size. 

filled with panes of glass, but most of these were now broken 
and replaced by boards. It need scarcely surprise us if glass 
is a scarce article of luxury here. 

We had no sooner entered the cabin than preparations for tea 
commenced. Sugar, biscuits, teacups and saucers, and a brandy 
Hask were produced from a common Russian travelling trunk. 
Fire was lighted, water boiled, and tea made in the common 
way, a thick smoke and strong fumes from the burning fuel 
spreading in the upper part of the low room, which for the 
time was packed full of curious visitors. Excepting these 
trifling inconveniences the entertainment passed off very agree- 
ably, with constant conversation, which was carried on with 
great liveliness, though the hosts and most of the guests could 
only with difficulty make themselves mutually intelligible. 

Hence we betook ourselves to the skin tents of the Samoyecls 




which stood apart from the wooden huts inhabited by the 
Kussians. Here too we met with a friendly reception. Several 
of the inhabitants of the tents were now clad with somewhat 
greater care in a dress of reindeer skin, resembling that of the 
Lapps. The women's holiday dress was particularly showy. 
It consisted of a pretty long garment of reindeer skin, fitting 
closely at the waist, so thin that it hung from the middle in 


One-third of natural size. 

beautiful regular folds. The petticoat has two or three differ- 
ently coloured fringes of dogskin, between which stripes of 
brightly coloured cloth are sewed on. The foot-covering con- 
sists of boots of reindeer skin beautifully and tastefully em- 
broidered. During summer the men go bare-headed. The 
women then have their black straight hair divided behind into 
two tresses, which are braided with straps, variegated ribbons 


and beads, which are continued beyond the point where the 
hair ends as an artificial prolongation of the braids, so that, in- 
cluding the straps which form this continuation, loaded as they 
are with beads, buttons, and metal ornameots of all kinds, they 
nearly reach the ground. The whole is so skilfully done, that 
at first one is inclined to believe that the women here were 
gifted with a quite incredible growth of hair. A mass of other 


After a drawing by H.j. Theel. 

bands of beads ornamented with buttons was besides often 
intertwined with the hair in a very tasteful way, or fixed to the 
perforated ears. All this hair ornamentation is^ naturally very 
heavy, and the head is still more weighed down in winter, as it 
is protected from the cold by a thick and very warm cap of rein- 
deer skin, bordered with dogskin, from the back part of which 
hang down two straps set full of heavy plates of brass or copper. 




The young woman also, even here as everywhere else, bedecks 
herself as best she can ; but fair she certainly is not in oar eyes. 
She competes with the man in dirt. Like the man she is small 
of stature, has black coarse hair resembling that of a horse's 
mane or tail, face of a yellow colour, often concealed by dirt, 
small, oblique, often running and sore eyes, a fiat nose, broad 
projecting cheekbones, slender legs and small feet and hands. 

The dress of the man, which resembles that of the Lapps, 
consists of a plain, full and long " pesk," confined at the waist 
with a belt richly ornamented with buttons and brass mount- 
ing, from which the knife is suspended. The boots of rein- 
deer skin commonly go above the knees, and the head covering 
consists of a closely fitting cap, also of reindeer skin. 


One-sixth of natural size. 

The summer tents, the only ones we saw, are conical, with a 
hole in the roof for carrying off the smoke from the fireplace, 
which is placed in the middle of the floor. The sleeping 
places in many of the tents are concealed by a curtain of varie- 
gated cotton cloth. Such cloth is also used, when there is a 
supply of it, for the inner parts of the dress. Skin, it would 
appear, is not a very comfortable material for dress, for the first 
thing, after fire-water and iron, which the skin-clad savage 
purchases from the European, is cotton, linen, or woollen cloth. 

Of the Polar races, whose acquaintance I have made, the 
reindeer Lapps undoubtedly stand highest ; next to them 
come the Eskimo of Danish Greenland. Both these races are 
Christian and able to read, and have learned to use and require a 
large immber of the products of agriculture, commerce, and the 


industrial arts of the present day, as cotton and woollen cloth, 
tools of forged and cast iron, firearms, coffee, sugar, bread, &c. 
They are still nomads and hunters, but cannot be called savages ; 
and the educated European who has lived among them for a 
considerable time commonly acquires a liking for many points of 
their natural disposition and mode of life. Next to them in 
civilisation come the Eskimo of North-western America, on 
whose originally rough life contact with the American whale- 
fishers appears to have had a very beneficial influence. I form 
my judgment from the Eskimo tribe at Port Clarence. The 
members of this tribe were still heathens, but a few of them 
were far travelled, and had brought home from the Sandwich 
Islands not only cocoa-nuts and palm mats, but also a trace of 
the South Sea islander's greater love for ornament and order. 
Next come the Chukchis, who have as yet come in contact 
with men of European race to a limited extent, but whose re- 
sources appear to have seriously diminished in recent times, in 
consequence of which the vigour and vitality of the tribe have 
decreased to a noteworthy extent. Last of all come the Samo- 
yeds, or at least the Samoyeds who inhabit regions bordering 
on countries inhabited by the Caucasian races; on them the 
influence of the higher race, with its regulations and ordinances, 
its merchants, and, above all, its fire-water, has had a distinctly 
deteriorating effect. 

When I once asked an Eskimo in North-western Greenland, 
known for his excessive self-esteem, whether he would not admit 
that the Danish Inspector (Governor) was superior to him, I 
got for answer : " That is not so certain : the Inspector has, it 
is true, more property, and appears to have more power, but 
there are people in Copenhagen whom he must obey. I receive 
orders from none." The same haughty self-esteem one meets 
with in his host in the " gamma" of the reindeer Lapp, and the 
skin tent of the Chukchi. In the Samoyed, on the other 
hand, it appears to have been expelled by a feeling of inferiority 
and timidity, which in that race has deprived the savage of his 
most striking characteristics. 

I knew from old travels and from my own experience on 
Yalmal, that another sort of gods, and one perhaps inferior to 
those which Anna Petrovna pulled out of her old boot, was 
to be found set up at various places on eminences strewn with 
the bones of animals that had been offered in sacrifice. Our 
Russian host informed us the Samoyeds from far distant 
regions are accustomed to make pilgrimages to these places 
in order to offer sacrifices and make vows. They eat the flesh 
of the animals they sacrifice, the bones are scattered over the 
sacrificial height, and the idols are besmeared with the blood of 
the sacrificed animal. I immediately declared that I wished 




to visit svicli a place. But for a long time none of the Russians 
who were present was willing to act as guide. At last how- 
ever a young man offered to conduct me to a place on Vaygats 
Island, where I could see what I wished. Accordingly the 
following day, accompanied by Dr. Almquist, Lieutenant 
Hovgaard, Captain Nilsson, and my Russian guide, I made 
an excursion in one of the steam launches to the other shore 
of Yugor Straits. 

The sacrificial eminence was situated on the highest point of 
the south-western headland of Vaygats Island, and consisted 
of a natural hillock which rose a c<niple of metres above the 


After a drawing by A. Hovgaard. 

surrounding plain. The plain terminated towards the sea 
with a steep escarpment. The land was even, but rose gradually 
to a height of eighteen metres above the sea. The country 
consisted of upright strata of Silurian limestone running ■ 
from east to west, and at certain places containing fossils 
resembling those of Gotland. Here and there were shallow 
depressions in the plain, covered with a very rich and uniformly 
green growth of grass. The high-lying dry parts again made a 
gorgeous show, covered as they were with an exceedingly 
luxuriant carpet of yellow and white saxifrages, blue EritricMa, 
Polcmonia and Parrjicc, and yellow Clirtjsosplciiia, &c. The last 



named, commonly quite modest flowers, are here so luxuriant 
that they form an important part of the flower covering. 
Trees are wholly wanting. Even bushes are scarcely two feet 
high, and that only at sheltered places, in hollows and at the 
:foot of steep slopes looking towards the south. The sacrificial 
mound consisted of a cairn of stones some few metres square, 
situated on a special elevation of the plain. Among the stones 
there were found : — 

1. Reindeer skulls, broken in pieces 
for the purpose of extracting the brains, 
but with the horns still fast to the coronal 
bone ; these were now so arranged among 
the stones that the}^ formed a close thicket 
of reindeer horns, which gave to the 
sacrificial mound its peculiar character. 

2. Reindeer skulls with the coronal 
bone bored through, set up on sticks 
which were stuck in the mound. Some- 
times there was carved on these sticks a 
number of faces, the one over the other. 

3. A large number of other bones of rein- 
deer, among them marrow bones, broken 
for the purpose of extracting the marrow. 

4. Bones of the bear, among which 
were observed the paws and the head, 
only half flayed, of a bear which had been 
shot so recently that the flesh had not 
begun to decompose ; alongside of this 
bear's head there were found two lead 
bullets placed on a stone. 

5. A quantity of pieces of iron, for 
instance, broken axes, fragments of iron 
puts, metal parts of a broken harmonicon, 
&c. ; and finally, 

6. The mighty beings to which all this 
splendour was ottered. 

They consisted of hundreds of small 
wooden sticks, the upper portions of which 

were carved very clumsily in the form of the human counte- 
nance, most of them from fifteen to twenty, but some of them 
370 centimetres in length. They were all stuck in the ground 
on the south-east part of the eminence. Near the place of 
sacrifice there were to be seen pieces of driftwood and remains 
of the fireplace at which the sacrificial meal was prepared. 
Our guide told us that at these meals the mouths of the idols 
were besmeared with blood and wetted with brandy, and the 
former statement was confirmed by the large spots of blood 


One-twelfth of natural .size. 


which were found on most of the large idols below the holes 
intended to represent the mouth. 

After a drawing had been made of the mound, we robbed it 
discreetly, and put some of the idols and the bones of the animals 
offered in sacrifice iato a bag which I ordered to be carried down 
to the boat. My guide now became evidently uncomfortable 
and said that I ought to propitiate the wrath of the "bolvans " 
by myself offering something. I immediately said that I was 
ready to do that, if lie would only show me how to go to 
work. A little a,t a loss, and doubtinsj whether he ought to 
be more afraid of the wrath of the " bolvans " or of the punish- 
ment which in another world would befal those who had 
sacrificed to false gods, he replied that it was only necessary 
to place some small coins among the stones. With a solemn 
countenance I now laid my gift upon the cairn. It was cer- 
tainly the most precious thing that had ever been offered 
there, consisting as it did of two silver pieces. The Kussian 
was now satisfied, but declared that I was too lavish, " a 
couple of copper coins had been quite enough." 

The following day the Samoyeds came to know that I had 
been shown their sacrificial mound. For their own part 
they appeared to attach little importance to this, but they 
declared that the guide would be punished by the offended 
" bolvans." He would perhaps come to repent of his deed 
by the following autumn, when his reindeer should return 
from Vaygats Island, where they for the present were tended 
by Samoyeds ; indeed if punishment did not befall him now, 
it would reach him in the future and visit his children and 
grandchildren — certain it was that the gods would not leave him 
unpunished. In respect to God's wrath their religious ideas 
were thus in full accordance with the teaching of the Old 

This place of sacrifice was besides not particularly old, for 
there had been an older place situated GOO metres nearer the 
shore, beside a grotto which was regarded by the Samoyeds 
with superstitious veneration. A larger number of wooden 
idols had been set up there, but about thirty years ago a 
zealous, newly-appointed, and therefore clean-sweeping] archi- 
mandrite visited the place, set fire to the sacrificial mound, 
and in its place erected a cross, which is still standing. The 
Samoyeds had not sought to retaliate by destroying in their 
turn the symbol of Christian Avorship. They left revenge to 
the gods themselves, certain that in a short time they would 
destroy all the archimandrite's reindeer, and merely removed 
their own place of sacrifice a little farther into the land. 
There no injudicious religious zeal has since attacked their 
worship of the " bolvans." 



The old place of sacrifice was still recognisable by the number 
of fragments of bones and rusted pieces of iron which lay strewed 
about on the ground, over a very extensive area, by the side 
of the Eussian cross. Remains of the fireplace, on which 
the Schaman gods had been burned, were also visible. These 
had been much larger and finer than the gods on the present 
eminence, which is also confirmed by a comparison of the 


After a drawing by A.. Hovgaard. 

drawings here given of the latter with those from the time 
of the Dutch explorers. The race of the Schaman gods has 
evidently deteriorated in the course of the last three hundred 

After I had completed my examination and collected some 
contributions from the old sacrificial mound I ordered a little 
boat, which the steam-launch had taken in tow, to be carried 




over the sandy neck of land which separates the lake shown on 
the map from the sea, and rowed with Captain Nilsson and my 
Russian guide to a Samoyed burying-place farther inland by 
the shore of the lake. 

Only one person was found buried at the place. The grave 
was beautifully situated on the sloping beach of the lake, now 
gay with numberless Pular flowers. It consisted of a box 
carefully constructed of broad stout pla,nks, fixed to the ground 
with earthfast stakes and cross-bars, so that neither beasts of 
prey nor lemmings could get through. The planks appeared 
not to have been hewn out of drift-wood, but were probably 


brought from the south, like the birch bark with which the 
bottom of the coffin was covered. As a " pesk," now fallen in 
pieces, lying round the skeleton, and various rotten rags show^ed, 
the dead body had been wrapped in the common Samoyed 
dress. In the grave were found besides the remains of an iron 
pot, an axe, knife, boring tool, bow, wooden arrow, some copper 
ornaments, &c. Rolled-up pieces of bark also lay in the coffin, 
which were doubtless intended to be used in lighting fires 
in another world. Beside the grave lay a sleigh turned upside 
down, evidently placed there in order that the dead man should 
not, away there, want a means of transport, and it is probable 




that reindeer for drawing it Avere slaughtered at the funeral 

As it may be of interest to ascertain to what extent the 
Samoyeds have undergone any considerable changes in their 
mode of life since they first became known to West-Europeans, 
I shall here quote some of the sketches of them which we 
find in the accounts of the voyages of the English and Dutch 
travellers to the North-East. 

. That changes have taken place in their weapons, in other 
words, that the Samoyeds have made progress in the art of 
war or the chase, is shown by the old drawings, some of which 
are here reproduced. For in these they are nearly always 


After Linschoteii. 

delineated with bows and arrows. Now the bow appears to 
have almost completely gone out of use, for we saw not 
a single Samoyed archer. They had, on the other hand, the 
wretched old flint firelocks, in which lost pieces of the lock 
were often replaced in a very ingenious way wdth pieces of bone 
and thongs. They also inquired eagerly for percussion guns, 
but breechloaders were still unknown to them. In this 
respect they had not kept abreast of the times so well as the 
Eskimo at Port Claience. 

One of the oldest accounts of the Samoyeds which I know 
is that of Stephen Burrough from 1556. It is given in 


Hakluyt (1st edition, page 318). In the narrative of the 
voyage of the Searchthrift we read : — 

"On Saturday the 1st August 155G I went ashore,^ and there 
saw three morses that they (Russian hunters) had killed : they 
held one tooth of a morse, which was not great, at a roble, and 
one white beare skin at three robles and two robles : they 
further told me, that there were people called Samoeds on the 
great Island, and that they would not abide them nor us, who 
have no houses, but only coverings made of Deerskins, set ouer 
them with stakes : they are men expert in shooting, and have 
great plenty of Deere. On Monday the 3rd we weyed and 
went roome with another Island, which was five leagues (15') 
East-north-east from us : and there I met againe with Loshak,- 
and went on shore with him, and he brought me to a heap of 
Samoeds idols, which were in number above 300, the worst 
and the most unartificiall worke that ever I saw : the eyes and 
mouthes of sundrie of them were bloodie, they had the shape 
of men, women, and children, very grosly wrought, and that 
which they had made tor other parts, was also sprinkled with 
blood. Some of their idols were an olde sticke with two or 
three notches, made with a knife in it. There was one 
of their sleds broken and lay by the heape of idols, and 
there I saw a deers skinne which the foules had spoyled : and 
before certaine of their idols blocks were made as high as their 
mouthes, being all bloody, I thought that to be the table 
whereon they offered their sacrifice : I saw also the instruments 
whereupon they had roasted flesh, and as farre as I could 
perceiue, they make the fire directly under the spit. Their 
boates are made of Deers skins, and when they come on shoare 
they cary their boates with them upon their backs : for their 
cariages they haue no other beastes to serve them but Deere 
only. As for bread and come they have none, except the Russes 
bring it to them : their knowledge is very base for they know 
no letter." 

Giles Fletcher, who in 1588 was Queen Elizabeth's 
ambassador to the Czar, writes in his account of Russia of the 
Samoyeds in the following way : — ^ 

" The Samoyt hath his name (as the Russc saith) of eating 
himselfe : as if in times past they lived as the Cannibals, eating 

^ Probably on one of the small islands near Vaygats. 

2 A Russian hunter who had been serviceable to Stephen Burrongh in 
many wnys. 

3 Treatise of Russia and the adjo'ming liegions^ written by Doctor 
Giles Fletcher, Lord Ambassador from the late Queen, Everglorious 
Elizabeth, to Theodore, then Emperor of Russia. A.D. 1588. Purchas, 
iii. p. 413. 


one another. Which they make more probable, because at 
this time they eate all kind of raw flesh, whatsoeuer it bee, 
euen the very carrion that lyeth in the ditch. But as the 
Samoits themselves will say, they were called Samoie, that is, 
of themselves, as tliough they were Indigcnoi, or people bred 
upon that very soyle that never changed their seate from one 
place to another, as most Nations have done. They are clad 
in Seale-skinnes, with the hayrie side outwards downe as low 
as the knees, with their Breeches and Netherstocks of the 
same, both men and women. They are all Blacke hayr'ed, 
naturally beardless. And therefore the Men are hardly dis- 
cerned from the Women by their lookes : saue that the Women 
weare a locke of hayre down along both their eares." 

In nearly the same way the Samoyeds are described by 
G. De Veer in his account of Barents' second voyage in 1595. 
Barents got good information from the Samoyeds as to the 
navigable water to the eastward, and always stood on a good 
footing with them, excepting on one occasion when the 
Samoyeds went down to the Dutchmen's boats and took back 
an idol which had been carried off from a large sacrificial 

The Samoyeds have since formed the subject of a very 
extensive literature, of which however it is impossible for 
me to give any account here. Among other points their 
relations to other races have been much discussed. On this 
subject I have received from my learned friend, the renowned 
philologist Professor Ahlquist of Helsingfors the following 
communication : — 

The Samoyeds are reckoned, along with the Tungoose, the 
Mongolian, the Turkish and the Finnish -Ugrian races, to belong 
to the so-called Altaic or Ural-Altaic stem. What is mainly 
characteristic of this stem, is that all the languages occurring 
within it belong to the so-called agglutinating type. For in 
these languages the relations of ideas are expressed exclusively 
by terminations or suffixes — inflections, prefixes and pre- 
positions, as expressive of relations, being completely unknown 
to them. Other peculiarities characteristic of the Altaic 
languages are the vocal harmony occurring in many of them, 
the inability to have more than one consonant in the beginning 
of a word, and the expression of the plural by a peculiar affix, 
the case terminations being the same in the plural as in the 
singular. The affinity between the different branches of the 
Altaic stem is thus founded mainly on analogy or resemblance 
in the construction of the languages, while the different tongues 
in the material of language (both in the words themselves 
and in the expression of relations) show a very limited affinity 





or none at all. The circumstance that the Samoyeds for tlie 
present have as their nearest neighbours several Finnish-Ugriau 
races (Lapps, Syrjaeni, Ostjaks, and Voguls), and that these 


rrom Suhlcissinj's Neu-entdecktes Sieweria, worinnen die Zobeln gefangon werdea. 
. Zittaul693.' 

1 A still more extraordinary idea of the Samoyeds, than that which this 
woodcut gives iis, we get from the way in which they are mentioned in 
the account of the ioumev which the Italian Minorite, Joannes de Piano 
Carpini, midertook in High Asia in the years 1245-47 as ambassador from 
the Pope to the mighty conqueror of the Mongolian hordes. In this book 
of travels it is said that Occodai Khan, Chingis Khan's son, after having 
b3en defeated by the Hungarians and Poles, turned towards the north, 
conquered the Bascarti, i e. the Great Hungarians, then came into collision 
with the Parositi — who had wonderfidly small stomachs and mouths, aTid 
did no' eat flesh, but only boiled it and nourished themselves by inhaling 
the steam — and finally came to the Samoffedi, who lived only by the chase 
and had hous^^s and clothes of skin, and to a land by the ocean, where 
there were monsters with the bodies of men, the feet of oxen and the faces 
of dogs (Relation des Mongols ou Tartares, par le frere Jean du Plan de 
Carnin, publ. par M. d'Avezac, Paris 18.^8, p. 281. Compare Ramusio, 
Delle navigafioni e viaggi, ii. 1583, leaf 236). At another place in the 
same work it is said that " tlie land Comania has on the north immediately 
after Russia, the Mordvini and Bileri, i.e. the Great Bulgarians, the 
Bascarti, i.e. the Great Hungarians, then the Parositi and Samogedi, who 
are said to have the faces of dogs" {Relation des Mongols, p. 351. 
Uanmsio, ii., leaf 23'J). 


to a great extent carry on the same modes of life as themselves, 
has led some authors to assume a close affinity between the 
Samoyeds and the Fins and the Finnish races in general. The 
speech of the two neighbouring tribes however affords no 
ground for such a supposition. Even the language of the 
Ostjak, which is the most closely related to that of the 
Samoyeds, is separated heaven-wide from it and has nothing 
in common with it, except a small number of borrowed words 
(chiefly names of articles from the Polar nomad's life), which the 
Ostjak has taken from the language of his northern neighbour. 
With respect to their language, however, the Samoyeds are 
said to stand at a like distance from the other branches of the 
stem in question. To what extent craniology or the modern 
anthropology can more accurately determine the affinity-relation- 
ship of the Samoyed to other tribes, is still a question of 
the future. 


From the Animal World of Novaya Zemlya — The Fulmar Petrel — The 
Rotge or Little Auk — Briinnich's Guillemot — The Black Guillemot — 
The Arctic Puffin— The Gulls— Richardson's Skua— the Tern— Ducks 
and Geese— The Swan^Waders — The Snow Bunting — The Ptarmigan 
—The Snowy Owl— The Reindeer— The Polar Bear— The Mountain Fox 
— The Lemming — Insects — The Walrus — The Seal — Whales. 

If we do not take into account the few Samoyeds who of 
recent years have settled on Novaya Zemlya or wander about 
during summer on the plains of Vaygats Island, all the lands 
which in the old worVl have formed the field of research of 
the Polar explorer — Spitzbergen, Franz-Josef Land, Novaya 
Zemlya, Vaygats Island, the Taimur Peninsula, the New 
Siberian Islands, and perhaps AVrangel's Land al.^o — are unin- 
habited. The pictures of life and variety, which the native, 
with his peculiar manners and customs, commonly offers to the 
foreigner in distant foreign lands, are not to be met with here. 
But, instead, the animal life, which he finds there m summer — 
for durinq' winter almost all beings who live above the surface of 
the sea disappear from the highest North — is more vigorous and 
perhaps even more abundant, or, to speak more correctly, less 
concealed by the luxuriance of vegetation than in tlie south. 

It is not, however, the larger mammalia — whales, walruses, 
seals, bears and reindeer— that attract attention in the first place, 
but the innumerable flocks of birds that swarm around tlie Polar 
traveller during the long simimer day of the North. 

G 2 


Long before one enters the region of the Polar Sea proper, the 
vessel is surrounded by flocks of large grey birds which fly, or 
rather hover without moving their wings, close to the surface of 
the sea, rising and sinking with the swelling of the billows, 
eagerly searching for some eatable object on the surface of the 
water, or swim in the wake of the vessel in order to snap up 
any scraps that may be thrown overboaixl. It is the Arctic 
stormfofjcl^ (Fulmar, "Mallemuck," "Hafhaest," Procellaria 
[jlacialis, L.). The fulmar is bold and voracious, and smells 
vilianously, on wliich account it is only eaten in cases of 
necessity, altliough its flesh, if the bird has not recently devoured 
too much rotten blubber, is by no means without relish, at least 
for those who have become accustomed to the flavour of train 
oil, when not too strong. It is more conimon on Bear Island 
and Spitzbergen than on Novaya Zemlya, and scarcely appears 
to breed in any considerable numbers on the last-named place. 
I know three places north of Scandinavia where the fulmar 
breeds in large numbers : tlie first on Bear Island, on the 
slopes of some not very steep cliffs near the so-called south 
harbour of the island,- the secou'i on the southern shore of 
Brandy wine Bay on North-East Land, the third on ledges of the 
perpendicular rock-waJls in the interior of Ice Fjord. At the 
two latter places the nests are inaccessible. On Bear Island, on 
the other hand, one can without very great difficulty plunder the 
whole colony of the dirty grey, short eggs, 'which are equally 
rounded at both ends. The eggs taste exceedingly well. The 
nest is very inconsiderable, smelling badly like the bird itself. 

When the navigator has gone a little further north and come 
to an ice-bestrewed sea, the swell ceases at once, the wind is 
hushed and the sea becomes bright as a mirror, rising and 
sinking with a slow gentle heaving. Flocks of little auks 
{Mcrguliis alle, L.) Brimnich's guillemots {Uria Brunnicliii, 
Sabine), and black guillemots {Uria (jrylle, L.) no w^ swarm in the 
air and swim among the ice floes. The cdke-kung (little auk), also 
called the "sea king," or rotge, occurs only sparingly off tlie 
southern part of Novaya Zemlya, and does not, so far as I know, 
breed there. The situation of the land is too southerly, the 
accumulations of stones along the sides of the mountains too 

^ The name stormfogel is also used for the Stormy Petrel (Thalassidroma 
pelayk-a, Vig.). This bird does nut occur in the portions of the Polar Sea 
with which we are now concerned. 

- At Bear Island, Tobiesen, on the 28th May, 1866, saw fulmars' eggs 
laid immediately on the ice which still covered the rock. At one place a 
bird sitting on its eggs was even frozen fast by one leg to the ice on the 
'i\ August, 1596. liarents found on the north part of Novaya Zemlya 
that some fulmars had chosen as a hatching-place a piece of ice covered 
with a little earth. In both these cases the under part of the egg during 
hatching could never be warmed above the freezing-point. 



[oh AT. 

inconsiderable, for the thriving of this little bird. But on 
Spitzbergen it occurs in incredible numbers, and breeds in the 
talus, 100 to 200 metres high, which frost and weathering have 
formed at several places on the steep slopes of the coast mountain 
sides ; for instance, at Horn Sound, at Magdalena Bay, on the 
Norways (near 80° N.L.), and other places. These stone heaps 
form the palace of the rotge, richer in rooms and halls than any 
other in the wide round world. If one climbs np among the 
stolies, he sees at intervals actual clouds of fovvl suddenly emerge 
from the ground either to swarm round in the air or else to Hy 
out to sea, and at the same time those that remain make their 
presence underground kuown by an unceasing cackling and din, 
resembling, according to Friedrich Martens, the noise of a 
crowd of quarrelling women. Should this sound be stilled for 
a few moments, one need only attempt in some opening among 

the stones to imitate their cry 
(according to Martens : roU-tct- 
iet-tet-tct') to get immediately 
eager and sustained replies from 
all sides. The fowl circling in 
the air soon settle again on the 
stones of the mountain slopes, 
where, squabbling and fighting, 
they pack themselves so close 
together that from fifteen to thirty 
of them may be killed by a single 
shot. A portion of the flock now 
flies up again, others seek their 
safety like rats in concealment 
among the blocks of stone. But 
they soon creep out again, in 
to fly out to sea and search for 
of Crustacea and vermes. The 
single blueish-white egg is laid on 


Swedish, Alkekung. {Mergiilus AUc, L.) 

order, as if by agreement, 
their food, which consists 
rotge dives with ease. Its 
the bare ground withoufa nest, so deep down among the stones 
that it is only with difficulty that it can be got at. In the 
talus of the mountains north of Horn Sound I found on the 
18th June, 1858, two eggs of this bird lying directly on the 
layer of ice between the stones. Probably the hatching season 
had not then begun. Where the main body of these flocks of 
birds passes the winter, is unknown,^ but they return to the 
north early — sometimes too early. Thus in 1873 at the end 
of April I saw a large number of rotges frozen to death on 

' It deserves to be investigated whether some little auks do not, like the 
Spitzbergen ptarmigan, pass the winter in their stone mounds, flying out 
to sea only at pretty long intervals in order to collect their food. 




tlie ice iu the north part of Hiuloopen Strait. When cooked 
the rotge tastes exceedingly well, and in consequence of the 
great development of the breast muscles it affords more food 
than could be expected from its small size. 

Along with the rotge we find among the ice far out at sea 
flocks of alkor (looms, or Briinnich's guillemots), and the nearer 
we come to the coast, the more do these increase in number, 
especially if the cliffs along the shore offer to this species of sea- 
fowl — the most common of the Polar lands — convenient hatching 
places. For this purpose are chosen the faces of cliffs which rise 
perpendirularl}- out of the sea, but yet b}^ ledges and uneven 


Swedish, Alka. {Uria Briinnichii, Sabine.) 

places afford room for the hatching fowl. On the guillemot- 
fells proper, eggs lie beside eggs in close rows from the crown of 
the cliff" to near the sea level, and the whole fell is also closely 
covered with seafowl, which besides in flocks of thousands and 
thousands fly to and from the cliffs, filling the air with their 
exceedingly unpleasant scream. The eggs are laid, without trace 
of a nest, on the rock, which is either bare or only covered with 
old birds' dung, so closely packed together, that in 1 858 from a 
ledge of small extent, which I reached by means of a rope from 
the top of the fell, I collected more than half a barrel-full 
of eggs. Each bird has but one very large agg, grey pricked 


with brown, of very variable size and form. After it has been 
sat upon for some time, it is covered with a thick layer of birds' 
dung, and in this way the hunters are accustomed to distinguish 
uneatable eggs from fresh. 

If a shot be fired at a " loomery," the fowl fly away in 
thousands from their hatching places, without the number of 
those that are not frightened away being ajDparently diminished. 
The clumsy and short-winged birds, when they cast themselves 
out of their places, fall down at first a good way before they 
get " sufficient air" under their wings to be able to fly. Before 
this takes place, many plump down into the water, sometimes 
even into the boat which may be rowed along the foot of 
the feU. 

An unceasing, unpleasant cackling noise indicates that a 
continual gossip goes on in the "loomery"; and that the 
unanimity there is not great, is proved by the passionate 
screams which are heard now and then. A bird squeezes 
forward in order to get a place on a ledge of rock already 
packed full, a couple of others quarrel about the ownership of 
an egg which has been laid on a corner of the rock only a few 
inches broad, and which now during the dispute is precipitated 
into the abyss. By the beginning of July most of the eggs 
are uneatable. I have seen the young of the size of a rotge 
accompany their mothers in the middle of August. The 
loom breeds on Walden Island and the north coast of 
North-East land, accordingly far north of 80°. I found the 
largest " loomeries " on Spitzbergen south of Lomme Bay in 
Hinloopen Strait, at the southern entrance to Van Meyen Bay 
in Bell Sound, and at Alkornet in Ice Fjord. In respect to the 
large number of fowl, however, only the first of these can 
compete with the south shore of Besimannaja Bay (72°54'N.L.) 
and with the part of Novaya Zemlya that lies immediately to 
the south of this bay. The eggs of the loom are palatable, 
and the flesh is excellent, though not quite free from the 
flavour of train oil. In any case it tastes much better than 
that of the eider. 

Along with the rotge and the loom two nearly allied 
species of birds, lunnefogcln, the Arctic puffin [Mormon 
arcHcus, L.) and tejsten or tohis-grisslan, the black guillemot 
(JJria grylle, L.) are to be seen among the drift-ice. I do not 
know any puflfin-fells on Spitzbergen. The bird appears to 
breed there only in small numbers, though it is still found on 
the most northerly part of the island. On Novaya Zemlya, 
too, it occurs rather sparingly. The black guillemot, on the other 
hand, is found everywhere, though never collected in large 
flocks, along the shores of Spitzbergen, and Novaya Zemlya, 
even as far north as Parry Island in 80° 40'N.L., where in 1861 


I saw several of their nests. These are placed near the summits 
of steep cliffs along the shore. The black guillemots often swim 
out together in pairs in the fjords. Their flesh has about the 
same taste as Brlinnich's guillemot, but is tougher and of 
inferior quality ; the eggs, on the other hand, are excellent. 

The sea fowl mentioned above are never met with inland. 
They never settle on a grassy sward or on a level sandy beach. 
The steep fowl-fell sides, the sea, ground-ice, pieces of drift-ice 
and small stones rising above the water, form their habitat. 
They swim with great skill both on, and under the water. The 
black guillemots and rotges fly swiftly and well ; Brlinnich's 
guillemots, on the contrary, heavily and ill. The latter therefore 
do not perhaps remove in winter farther from their hatching 


Swedish, Lunnefogel. (Mormon Arcticus, li.) 


Swedish, Tejst. (Urm Grylle, L.) 

places than to the nearest open water, and it is probable that 
colonies of Brlinnich's guiUemots are not located at places 
where the sea freezes completely even far out from the coast. 
On this perhaps depends the scarcity of Brlinnich's guillemot 
in the Kara Sea. 

While sailing in the Arctic Ocean, vessels are nearly always 
attended by two kinds of gulls, the greedy stormaosen or 
lorgmacstcren, glaucous gull {Larus glaucus, Brlinn.), and the 
gracefully formed, swiftly flying kryekian or tretaoiga 7naosen, 
kittiwake {Larus tridactylus, L.), and if the hunter lies to at an 
ice-floe to flense upon it a seal which has been shot, it is not 
long till a large number of snow-white birds with dark blue 
bills and black le^rs settle down in the neighbourhood in order 


that they may get a portion of the spoil. They belong to the 
third kind of gull common in the north, isrnaosen, the ivory 
gull (Larus eburneus, Gmel.). 

In disposition and mode of life these gulls differ much from 
each other. The glaucous gull is sufficiently strong to be able 
to defend its eggs and young against the attack of the mountain 
fox. It therefore breeds commonly on the summits of easily 
accessible small cliffs, hillocks or heaps of stones, preferably in 
the neighbourhood of " loomeries " or on fowl-islands, where 
the young of the neighbouring birds offer an opportunity for 
prey and hunting during the season when its own young are 
being fed. Sometimes, as for instance at Brandywine Bay on 
Spitzbergen, the glaucous gull breeds in great flocks on the 
ledges of steep fell-sides, right in the midst of Brlinnich's 
guillemots. On Bear Island I have seen it hatch on the very 
beach, at a place, for instance, under the arch of a waterfall 
leaping down from a precipitous cliff. The nests, which, to 
judge from the quantity of birds' dung in their neighbourhood, 
are u.sed for a long succession of years, are placed in a dej)ression 
in the rock or the ground, and lined with a little straw or a 
feather or two. The number of the eggs is three or four. 
After boiling they show a jellylike, half tran.sparent white, and 
a reddish yellow, and are exceedingly delicious. The young 
birds have white flesh, resembling chicken. The burgomaster 
is common everywhere along the coasts of Novaya Zemlya and 
Spitzbergen. Yet I have not seen the nest of this gull on the 
north coast of North East Land or on the Seven Islands. 

Still more common than the glaucous gull in the lands of the 
High North is kryckian, the kittiwake. It is met with far out 
at sea, where it accompanies the vessel whole days, circling 
round the tops of the masts, and sometimes — according to the 
statements of the walrus-hunters, when a storm is approaching — 
pecking at the points of the pendant. When the vessel is in 
harbour, the kittiwakes commonly gather round it to pick out 
anything eatable in the refuse that may be thrown away. They 
breed in great flocks on the steep escarpments in some separate 
part of the fowl-fells, in connection with which, it is evident 
that the kittiwakes always endeavour to choose the best places 
of the fell — those that are most inaccessible to the fox and are 
best protected against bad weather. Among the birds of the 
north the kittiwake is the best builder ; for its nest is walled 
with straw and mud, and is very firm. It juts out like a great 
swallow's nest from the little ledo;e to which it is fixed. 
Projecting ends of straw are mostly bent in, so that 
the nest, with its regularly rounded form, has a very tidy 
appearance. The interior is further lined with a soft, carefullv 
arranged layer of moss, grass and seaweed, on which the bird 




lavs three to four well-flavoured esfffs. The soft warm 
underlayer is, however, not without its incouveiiience ; for 
Dr. Stuxberg during the voyage of 1875 found in such a nest 
no fewer than twelve kinds of insects, among them Pulcx 
vagahundus, Bohem. in nine sj)ecimens, a beetle, a fly, &c. 

The ivory gull, called by Fr. Martens " Rathsherr," the 
Councillor, is found, as its Swedish name indicates, principally 
out at sea in the pack, or in fjords filled with drift-ice. It is a 
true ice-bird, and, it may almost be said, scarcely a water-bird at 
all, for it is seldom seen swimming on the surface, and it can 
dive as little as its relatives, the slaucous crull and the kitti wake. 


Swedish, Kryckia. {Lams tridacit,lus. L.) 


Swedish, Ismaos. {Larus eburneus, L.) 

In greed it competes with the fulmar. When any large animal 
has been killed among the drift-ice, the ivory gull seldom fails to 
put in an appearance in order to quench its hunger with flesh 
and blubber. It consumes at the same time the excrements of 
the seal and the walrus, on which account from three to five 
ivory gulls may often be seen sitting for a long time round a 
seal-hole, quiet and motionless, waiting patiently the arrival of 
the seal (Malmgren). 

The proper breeding places of this bird scarcely appear to be 
yet known. So common as it is both on the coasts of Spitz- 
bergen from the Seven Islands to South Cape and on the north 




coast of Novaya Zemlya and America, its nest has only been 
found twice, once in 1853 by McClintock at Cape Krabbe 
in North America in 77° 25' N.L., the second time by Dr. 
Mahn^Ten at Murchison Bay, in 82° 2' N.L. The two nests 
that Mahngren found consisted of depressions, twenty-three 
to twenty-six centimetres in diameter, in a hea,p of loose gravel, 
on a ledge" of a steeply-sloping limestone-rock wall. In each 
nest was found only one egg, which, on the 80th July, already 
contained a down-covered young bird. For all the ivory gulls 
which have their home on Spitzbergen there were doubtless 
required several hundred such breeding-places as that at 
Murchison Bay. When to this is added the fact that we never 


A. Sabine's Gull. {Larus Sahiiiii, Sabine.) b. Ross's Gull (Lnrus Rossii, Richards.) 

ill autumn saw on Spitzbergen any full-grown young of this 
kind of gull, I assume that its proper breeding-place must be 
found farther north, on the shores of some still unknown Polar 
land, perhaps continually surrounded by ice. It deserves to 
be mentioned with reference to this, that Murchison Bay was 
covered with ice when Mahngren found the nests referred to 

Besides these varieties of the gull, two other species have 
been found, though very rarely, in the Polar regions, viz., 
Lams Sahinil, Salaine, and Larus Rossii, Richards. Although 
I have myself only seen the latter, and that but once (on the 
Chukchi Peninsula), I hero give drawings of them both for 




the use of future Polar explorers. They are perhaps, if they 
be properly observed, not so rare as is commonly supposed. 

Often during summer in the Arctic regions one hears a 
pe:^.etrating shriek in the air. When one inquires into the 
reason of this, it is found to proceed from a kittiwake, more 
rarely from a glaucous gull, eagerly pursued by a bird as large 
as a crow, dark -brown, with white breast and long tail-feathers. 


Swedish, Labben. {Lestris pantsitka, L.) 

B. buffon's skua. 
Swedish, Fjellabben. (Lestris Biiffonii. Boic.) 


Swedish, Bredstjertade Labben. (Lestris pomftrina, Tem.) 

It is lahhen, the common skua (Lestris parasitica, L.), known by 
the Norwegian walrus -hunters under the name of tjufjo, de- 
rived from the bird's cry, " I-o i-o" and its shameless thief-nature. 
When the "tjufjo" sees a kittiwake or a glaucous gull fly off 
with a shrimp, a fish, or a piece of blubber, it instantly attacks 
it. It flies with great swiftness backwards and forwards 
around its victim, striking it with its bill, until the attacked 

Til.] THE -'TJUFJO." 95 

bird eitlier drops what it has caught, which is then immediately 
snappei up by the skua, or else settles down upon the surface 
of the water, where it is protected against attack. The skua 
besides eats eggs of other birds, especially of eiders and geese. 
If the eggs are left but for a few moments unprotected in the 
nest, it is immediately to the front and shows itself so voracious 
that it is not afraid to attack nests from which the hatching 
birds have been frightened away by men engaged in gathering 
eggs only a few yards off. With incredible dexterity it pecks 
a hole in the eggs and sucks their contents. If speed is 
necessary, this takes place so quickly and out of so many eggs 
in succession that it sometimes has to stand without moving, 
unable to iiy further until it has thrown up what it had 
swallowed. The skua in this way commonly takes part in 
the plundering of every eider island. The walrus-hunters are 
very much embittered against the bird on account of this in- 
trusion on their industry, and kill it vvhenever they can. The 
whalers called it " struntjaeger " — refuse-hunter — because they 
believed that it hunted gulls in order to make them void their 
excrements which " struntjaegeren " was said to devour as a 

The skua breeds upon low, unsheltered, often water-drenched 
headlands and islands, where il la3^s one or two eggs on the 
bare ground, often without trace of a nest. The eggs are so 
like the ground that it is only with difficulty that they can be 
found. The male remains in the neighbourhood of the nest 
during the hatching season. If a man, or an animal which 
the bird considers dangerous, approaches the eggs, the pair 
endeavour to draw attention from them by removing from the 
nest, creeping on the ground and flapping their wings in the 
most pitiful way. The bird thus acts with great skill a 
veritable comedy, but takes good care that it is not caught. 

As is well known, we know only two varieties of colour in 
this bird, a self-coloured brown, and a brown on the upper part 
of the body with white below. Of these I have only once in 
tlie Arctic regions seen the self-coloured variety, viz. at Bell 
Sound in 18.58. All the hundreds of skuas which I have 
seen, besides, have had the throat and lower part of the body 
coloured white. 

This bird is very common on Spitzbergen and Novaya 
Zemlya. Yet perhaps it scarcely breeds on the north part of 
North-East Laud. Along with the bird now described there 
occur, though sparingly, two others : — hreddjcrtnde labhen, the 
Pomarine skua [Lestris 'jjomariTia , Tem.) and ^^'t'/ZaZ/^^cTi, Buffon's 
skua (Lestris Bujfonii, Boie). The latter is distinguished by its 
more slender build and two very long tail-feathers, and it is 
much more common farther to the east than on Spitzbergen. 


I have not had an opportunity of making any observations on 
the mode of life of these birds. 

As the skua pursues the kittiwake and the glaucous gull, it 
is in its turn pursued with extraordinary fierceness by the little 
swiftly-flying and daring bird taernan, the Arctic tern {Sterna 
niacroura, Naum.). This beautiful bird is common everywhere 
on the coasts of Spitzbergen, but rather rare on Novaya Zemlya. 
It breeds in considerable flocks on low grass-free headlands or 
islands, covered with sand or pebbles. The eggs, which are 
laid on the bare grovind without any trace of a nest, are so like 
lichen-covered pebbles in colour, that it is only with difficulty 
one can get eyes upon them ; and this is the case in a yet 
higher degree with the newly-hatched young, which notwith- 
standing their thin dress of down have to lie without anything 
below them among the bare stones. From the shortness of 
their legs and the length of their wings it is only with difficulty 
that the tern can go on the ground. It is therefore impossible 
for it to protect its nest in the same way as the " tjufjo." In- 
stead, this least of all the swimming birds of the Polar lands 
does not hesitate to attack any one, whoever he may be, that 
dares to approach its nest. The bird circles round the disturber 
of the peace with evident exasperation, and now and then goes 
whizzing past his head at such a furious rate that he must every 
moment fear that he will be wounded with its sharp beak. 

Along with the swimmers enumerated above, we find every- 
where along these shores two species of eider, the vanliga eidern, 
common eider (Somateria mollissima, L.) 2inA prahtejdern . king- 
duck (Somateria sjjectahilis, L.). The former prefers to breed on 
low islands, which, at the season for laying eggs, are already 
surrounded by open water and are thus rendered inaccessible to 
the mountain foxes that wander about on the mainland. The 
richest eider islands I have seen in Spitzbergen are the Down 
Islands at Horn Sound. When I visited the place in 1858 the 
whole islands were so thickly covered with nests that it was 
necessary to proceed wath great caution in order not to trample 
on eggs. Their number in every nest was five to six, sometimes 
larger, the latter case, according to the walrus-hunters, being 
accounted for by the female when she sits stealing eggs from 
her neighbours. I have myself seen an egg of Anser bernicla in 
an eider's nest. The eggs are hatched by the female, but 
the beautifully coloured male watches in her neighbourhood and 
gives the signal of flight when danger approaches. The nest 
consists of a^ rich, soft, down bed. The best down is got by 
robbing the down-covered nest, an inferior kind by plucking 
the dead birds. When the female is driven from the nest she 
seeks in haste to scrape down over the eggs in order that they 
may not be visible. She besides squirts over them a very 

HI. 1 



stinking fluid, whose disgusting smell adheres to the collected 
eggs nnd down. The stinking substance is however so volatile 
or so easily decomposed in the air that the smell completely 
disappears in a few hours. The eider, which some years ago was 
very numerous on Spitzbergen,^ has of late years considerably 
diminished in numbers, and perhaps will soon be completely 
driven thence, if some restraint be not laid on the heedless way 
in which not only the Eider Islands are now plundered, but the 
birds too killed, often for the mere pleasure of slaughter. On 
Novaya Zemlya, too, the eider is common. It breeds, for in- 
stance, in not inconsiderable numbers on the high islands in 
Karmakul Bay. The eider's flesh has, it is true, but a slight 
flavour of train oil, but it is coarse and far inferior to that of 
Briinnich's guillemot. In particular, the flesh of the female 
while hatchinof is almost uneatable. 


A. eider; b. king duck; c. barnacle goose; d. white-fronted goose. 

The king-duck occurs more sparingly than the common 
eider. On Spitzbergen it is called the " Greenland eider," on 
Greenland the " Spitzbergen eider," which appears to indicate 
that in neither place is it quite at home. On Novaya Zemlya, on 
the other hand, it occurs in larger numbers. Only once have I 
seen the nest of this bird, namely, in 1873 on Axel's Islands in 
Bell Sound, where it bred in limited numbers together with the 
common eider. In the years 1858 and 1864, when I visited the 
same place, it did not breed there. Possibly its proper breeding 

^ The quantity of eider-down wliicli was brought from the Polar lands 
toTromsoe amounted in 1868 to 540, in 1869 to 963, in 1870 to 882, in 1871 
to 630. and in 1872 to 306 kilograms. The total annual yield maybe 
estimated at probably three times as much. 



place is on Novaya Zemlya at the inland lakes a little way from 
the coast. The walrus-hunters say that its eggs taste better 
than those of the common eider. They are somewhat smaller 
and have a darker green colour. 

On the Down Islands hatches, along with the eiders, the long- 
necked prutgaessen, barnacle goose {Anser hcrnicla, L.) marked 
on the upper part of the body in black and brownish grey. 
It lays four to five white eggs in an artless nest without 
down, scattered here and there among the eiders' nests rich in 
down. This variety of goose is found in greatest numbers 
during the moulting season at small inland lakes along the 
coast, for instance on the line of coast between Bell Sound and 
Ice Fjord and on Gooseland. The walrus-hunters sometimes 
call them " rapphoens " — partridges — a misleading name, which 
in 1873 induced me to land on the open coast south of Ice 
Fjord, where " rapphoens " were to be found in great numbers. 
On landing I found only moulting barnacle geese. The bar- 
nacle goose finds its food more on land and inland lakes than 
in the sea. Its flesh accordingly is free from the flavour of 
train oil and tastes well, except that of the female during the 
hatching season, when it is poor and tough. The eggs are 
better than the eider's. 

On Spitzbergen besides the barnacle goose we meet with the 
closely allied species Anser leuco])sis, Bechst. It is rather rare, 
but more common on Novaya Zemlya. Further there occurs at 
the last-named place a third species of goose, vildgaosen, the 
" grey goose " or " great goose " of the walrus-hunters ; the bean 
goose {Anser segetum, Gmel.), which is replaced on Spitzbergen 
by a nearly allied type, the pink-footed goose (Anser hracliy- 
rhynchus, Baillon). These geese are much larger than both the 
eider and the barnacle goose, and appear to be sufficiently 
strong to defend themselves against the fox. They commonly 
breed high up on some mossy or grassy oasis, among the stone 
mounds of the coast mountains, or on the summit of a steep 
strand escarpment in the interior of the fjords. During the 
moulting season the grey geese collect in flocks at the small 
fresh-water lakes along the coast. The flesh of this species of 
goose is finer than that of the common tame goose and has no 
trace of any train flavour. 

Among the swimming birds that give the summer life on 
Novaya Zemlya its peculiar character, we may further reckon 
the scaup-duck and the swan. Alfogel or allan, the long-tailed 
duck [Fuligula glaciaUs, L.) is rare on Spitzber'^en, but occurs 
very generally on Novaya Zemlya, and especially in the Kara 
Sea, on whose coasts it is seen in summer collected in large 
flocks. Mindre snongsvanen, Bewick's swan {Cygnus Beivickii, 
Yarr.), is the most nobly formed and coloured bird of the 




north. I have akeady described its nest, which is found in 
considerable numbers in Gooseland. The bird is blinding- 
white, resembling the common swan, but somewhat smaller 
and with a considerable difference in the formation of the wind- 
pipe and the "keel" of the breastbone. The flesh is said to 
be coarse and of inferior flavour. 


Swedish, Mindre Saongsvanen. (Cyfjnus BeivickU, Yarr.) 


iif Cygnus Bewickii, showing the peculiar position of the windpipe. After Tarrell. 

The land-birds in the Arctic regions are less numerous both 
in species and individuals than the sea-birds. Some of them, 
however, also occur in large numbers. Almost wherever one 
lands, some small greyish brown waders are seen running quickly 
to a.nd fro, sometimes in pairs, sometimes in flocks of ten to 
twenty. It is the most common wader of the north, the 
fjaerplyt of the walrus-hunters, the purple sandpiper (Tringa 
maritima, Briinn.). It lives on flies, gnats, and other land 

H 2 

100 THE VOYAGE OF THE VEGA. [, hap. 

insects. Its -well-filled crop shows how well the bh-d knows 
how to collect its food even in regions where the entomologist 
can only with difficulty get hold of a few of the animal forms 
belonging to his field of research. The purple sandpiper lays 
its four or five eggs in a pretty little nest of dry straw on open 
grassy or mossy plains a little distance from the sea. It also 
endeavours to protect its nest by acting a comedy like that of 
the tjvfjo. Its flesh is delicious. 

In the company of the purple sandpiper there is often seen a 
somewhat larger wader, or, more correctly, a bird intermediate 
between the waders and the swimming birds. This is the 
beautiful hrednachhade siynsnacppayi, the grey (or red) phalarope 
{Phalaropus fulicarius, Bonap.). It is not rare on Spitzbergen, 
and it is exceedingly common, perhaps even the commonest 
bird on the north coast of Asia. I imagine therefore that it is 
not absent from Novaya Zemlya, though there has hitherto been 
observed there only the nearly allied smalnaehbade simsnaeppan, 
the red - necked phalarope {Phalaropus hypcrlorcvs, Lath.). 
This bird might be taken as the symbol of married love, so 
faithful are the male and female, being continually to be seen 
in each other's company. While they search for their food in 
pools of water along the coast, they nearly alwa^^s bear each 
other company, swimming in zigzag, so that every now and 
then they brush past each other. If one of them is shot, the 
other flies away onh" for a short time until it observes that its 
mate is left behind. It then flies back, swims with evident 
distress round its dead friend, and pushes it with its bill to get 
it to rise. It does not, however, spend an}^ special care on its 
nest or the rearing of its young, at least to judge by the nest 
which Duner found at Bell Sound in 1864. The position of 
the nest was indicated by three eggs laid without anything 
below them on the bare ground, consisting of stone splinters. 
The flesh of the phalarope is a great delicacy, like that of other 
waders which occur in the regions in question, but which I 
cannot now stay to describe. 

During excursions in the interior of the land along the coast, 
nne often hears, near heaps of stones or shattered cliffs, a 
merry twitter. It comes from an old acquaintance from the 
home land, the snoesparfvcn or snoclacrkan, the snow-bunting 
{Emheriza nivalis, L.). The name is well chosen, for in winter 
this pretty bird lives as far south as the snow goes on the 
Scandinavian peninsula, and in summer betakes itself to the 
snow limit in Lapland, the tundra of North Siberia, or the 
coasts of SjDitzbergen and Novaya Zemlya. It there builds 
its carefully-constructed nest of grass, feathers and down, deep 
in a stone heap, preferably surrounded by a grassy plain. 
The air resounds with the twitter of the little gay warbler, 




which makes the deeper impression because it is the only 
true bird's song one hears in the highest north.^ 

On Spitzbergen there is sometimes to be met with in the 
interior of the country, on the mountain slopes, a game bird, 
spetsbergsriijciii, the rock ptarmigan {Layopas hyperbore^is, 
Sund.). A nearly allied type occurs on the Taimur peninsula, 
and along the whole north coast of Asia. It perhaps therefore 
can scarcely be doubted that it is also to be found on ^ovaya 
Zemlya, though we have not hi herto seen it there. On Spitz- 


Mussel Bay on Spitzbergen, after a photograph taken by A. Envall on the 21st June, 1S72. 

bergen this bird had only been found before 1872 in single 
specimens, but in that year, to our glad surprise, we discovered 
an actual ptarmigan-fell in the neighbourhood of our winter 
colony, immediately south of the 80th degree of latitude. It 
formed the haunt of probably a thousand birds ; at least a 
couple of hundred were shot there in the course of the winter. 
They probably breed there under stones in summer, and creep- 
ing in among the stones pass the winter there, at certain seasons 
doubtless in a kind of torpid state. 

^ There are, however, various other song-birds founfl already on south 
Xovaya Zemlya, for instance, lappsparfven. the Lapland hnnXm^ {Ember lia 
hipponica, L.), and berglaerkan, the shore-lark (Alauda alpestris, L.). They 
hatch on the ground under bushes, tufts of grass, or stones, in very care- 
t'ully constructed nests lined with cotton-grass and feathers, and are not 




The mode of life of the Spitzbergen ptarmigan is thus widely 
different from that of the Scandinavian ptarmigan, and its flesh 
also tastes differently. For the bird is exceedingly fat, and its 
flesh, as regards flavour, is intermediate between black-cock and 
fat goose. ^ We may infer from this that it is a great delicacy. 

When I was returning, in the autumn of 1872, from an ex- 
cursion of some length along the shore of Wijde Bay, I fell in 
with one of our sportsmen, who had in his hand a white bird 
marked with black spots, which he showed me as a " very large 
ptarmigan." In doing so, however, he fell into a great ornitho- 
logical mistake, for it was not a ptarmigan at all, but another 


Swedish, Fjellnggla. (Strij: nyctca, L.) 

kind of bird, similarly marked in winter, namely, fjellugglan, 
the walrus-hunter's isocrn, the snowy owl (Strix nyctca, L.). It 
evidently breeds and winters at the ptarmigan-fell, which it 
appears to consider as its own poultry-yard. In fact, the 
marking of this bird of prey is so similar to that of its victim 
that the latter can scarcely peihaps know how to take care of 
itself. On Spitzbergen the snowy owl is very rare ; but on 
Novaya Zemlya and the North coast of Asia — where the lem- 
ming, which is wanting on Spitzbergen, occurs in great crowds 

1 Hedenstroin also states (OtnjivJd o Sibiri, St. Petersburg, 1830, p. 130,) 
that the ptarmigan winters on tlie New Siberian Islands, and that there it 
is fatter and more savoury than on the mainland. . 


— it is common. It commonly sits immoveable on an ojjen 
mountain slope, visible at a great distance, from the strong 
contrast of its white colour with the greyish-green ground. 
Even in the brightest sunshine, unlike other owls, it sees 
exceedingly well. It is very shy, and therefore difficult to 
shoot. The snow ptarmigan and the snowy owl are the only 
birds of which we know with certainty that they winter on 
Spitzbergen, and both are, according to Hedenstrom, native 
to the New Siberian Islands {Otryioki o Sibiri, p. 112). 

In the cultivated regions of Europe the larger mammalia 
are so rare that most men in their whole lifetime have never 
seen a wdld mammal so large as a dog. This is not the case 
in the high north. The number of the larger mammalia here 
is indeed no longer so large as in the seventeenth century, when 
their capture yielded an abundant living to from twenty to 
thirty thousand men ; but sport on Novaya Zemlya and Spitz- 
bergen still supports several hundred hunters, and during 
summer scarcely a day passes without a visitor of the coasts of 
these islands seeing a seal or a walrus, a reindeer or a Polar 
bear. In order to present a true picture of the Polar traveller's 
surroundings and mode of life, it is absolutely necessary to 
give a sketch of the occurrence and mode of life of the wild 
mammalia in the Polar lands. 

I shall make a beginning with the reindeer. This grami- 
nivorous animal goes nearly as far to the north as the land in 
the old world. It was not, indeed, observed by Payer on Franz 
Josef Land, but traces of the reindeer were seen by us on 
the clay beds at Cape Chelyuskin ; remnants of reindeer w^ere 
observed at Barents' winter harbour on the northernmost part 
of Novaya Zemlya ; some very fat animals w'ere killed by 
Norwegian walrus-hunters on King Karl's Laud east of Spitz- 
bergen, and for some years back the reindeer was very numerous 
even on the north coast of North East Land, and on Castren's, 
Pany's, Marten's, and Phipj)s' Islands, lying still farther to the 
north. Although these regions are situated between 80° and 
81° N.L., the reindeer evidently thrives there very well, and 
finds, even in winter, abundant food on the mountain slopes 
swept clear of snow by storms, as is shown by the good condi- 
tion in which several of the animals shot by us were, and by 
the numerous reindeer traces and tracks which w^e saw on 
Castren's Island in the month of May, 1873. Nor does a 
winter temperature of — 40° to —50° appear to agree particu- 
larly ill with these relatives of the deer of the south. Even 
the Norwegian reindeer can bear the climate of Spitzbergen, 
for some of the selected draught reindeer which I took with 
me to Spitzbergen in 1872, and which made their escape soon 
after they were landed, were shot by -hunters in 1875. .They 


then pastured in company with wild reindeer, and were, Kke 
them, very fat. It is remarkable that the reindeer, notwith- 
standing the devastating pursuit to which it is exposed on 
Spitzbergen/ is found there in much larger numbers than on 
North Novaya Zemlya or the Taimur peninsula, where it is 
almost protected from the attacks of the hunter. Even on the 
low-ljdng part of South Novaya Zemlya, the reindeer, notwith- 
standing the abundance of the summer pasture, is so rare that, 
when one lands there, any reindeer-hunting is scarcely to be 
counted on. It first occurs in any considerable numbers farther 
to the north, on both sides of Matotschkin Schar. 

It deserves to be mentioned here that three hundred years 
ago, when the north part of Novaya Zemlya was for the 
first time visited by man, reindeer do not appear to have 
been more numerous there than now. In the narrative of 
Barents' third voyage (De Veer, Diarium Nauticum, 21st 
June, 1.596) it is expressly stated : " Here it may be remarked 
that, although the land, which we consider as Groenland (the 
present Spitzbergen), lies under and over the 80th degree of 
latitude, there cjrow there abundant leaves and grass, and 
there are found there such animals as eat grass, as reindeer, 
while on the other hand, on Novaya Zemlya, under the 76th 
degree of latitude, there are neither leaves nor grass nor any 
grass-eating animal." After this, however, traces of reins were 
found even at the winter station ; a bear, for instance, was 
killed that had devoured a reindeer. 

On Spitzbergen the reindeer have been considerably diminished 
in numbers by the hunting, first of the Dutch and English, 
and afterwards of the Russians and Norwegians. In the north- 
western pail, of the island, where the Dutch had their train-boiling 
establishments, the animal has been completely extirpated.^ 

1 The liunters from Tromsoe brought home, in 1868, 996 ; in 18G9, 975 ; 
nnd in 1870, 837 reindeer. When to this we add the great number of 
reindeer which are shot in spring and are not included in these calculations, 
and when we consider that the number of walrus-hunting vessels which 
:'re fitted out from Tromsoe is less than that of those which go out from 
H immerfest, and that the shooting of reindeer on Spitzbergen is also 
carried on by hunters from other towns, and by tourists, we must suppose 
that at least 3,000 reindeer have been killed during each of those years. 
Formerly reindeer stalking was yet more productive, but since 1370 the 
number killed has considerably diminished. 

- When Spitzbergen was first mapped, a great number of places were 
named after reindeer, which shows that the reindeer was found there in 
large numbers, and now just at tliese places it is completely absent. On 
the other hand, the Dutch and English explorers during the sixteenth 
century saw no reindeer on Novaya Zemlya. During the Swedish expedi- 
tion of 187.5 no reindeer were seen on the west coast of this island south of 
K:irniakul Bay, while a number were shot at Besimannaja Bay and Matot- 
schkin. Schar. When some of the companions of the well-known walrus- 


It still, however, occurs on Ice Fjord in very great numbers, 
which, were the animal protected, would speedily increase. 

That so devastating a pursuit as that which goes on year after 
year on Spitzbergen can be carried on without the animal being 
extirpated, has even given rise to the hypothesis of an immi- 
gration from iSTovaya Zemlya. But since I have become better 
acquainted with the occurrence of the reindeer in the latter 
place, this mode of explanation does not appear to me to be 
correct. If, therefore, as several circumstances in fact indicate, 
an immigration of reindeer to Spitzbergen does take place, it 
must be from some still unknown Polar land situated to the 
north-north-east. In the opinion of some of the walrus-hunters 
there are indications that this unknown land is inhabited, for 
it has repeatedly been stated that marked reindeer have been 
taken on Spitzbergen. The first statement on this point is to 
be found in Witsen {Noort oostcr gecUelte van Asia en Europa, 
1705, ii. page 904), where the reins are said to have been 
marked on the horns and the ears ; and I have myself heard 
hunters, who in Norway were well acquainted with the care of 
reindeer, state positively that the ears of some of the Spitz- 
bergen reindeer they shot were clipped — probably, however, 
the whole has originated from the ears having been marked 
by frost. That no immigration to Spitzbergen of reindeer from 
Novaya Zemlya takes place, is shown besides by the fact that 
the Spitzbergen reindeer appears to belong to a race differing 
from the Novaya Zemlya reindeer, and distinguished by its 
sm-vUer size, shorter head and legs, and plumper and fatter body. 

The life of the wild reindeer is best known from Spitzbergen. 
During summer it betakes itself to the grassy plains in the 
ice-free valleys of the island, in late autumn it withdraws — 
according to the walrus-hunters' statements — to the sea-coast, in 
order to eat the seaweed that is thrown up on the beach, and in 
winter it goes back to the lichen-clad mountain heights in the 
interior of the country, where it appears to thrive exceedingly 
well, though the cold during winter must be excessively severe ; 
for when the reindeer in spring return to the coast they are 
still very fat, but some weeks afterwards, when the snow has 

hunting captain, Sievert Tobiesen, were compelled in 1872-73 to winter at 
North Goose Cape, they shot during winter and spring only eleven 
reindeer. Some Russians, who by an accident were obliged to pass six 
years in succession somewhere on the coast of Stans Foreland (Maloy 
Broun), and who, during this long timfe, were dependent for their food on 
what they could procure by hunting without the use of fire-arms (they had 
when they landed powder and ball for only twelve shots), when the three 
survivors were found and taken home in 1749, had killed two Imndred and 
fifty reindeer (P. L. le Roy, Relation des Aventures arrivks a quatre 
matelots Rushes jetUs par une tempete pres de Vide deserte d' Ost- Spitzbergen, 
siir luquelle Us ont passe six ans et trois /nois, 1700^. 




frozen on the surface, and a crust of ice makes it difficult for 
them to get at the mountain sides, they become so poor as 
scarcely to be eatable. In summer, however, they speedily eat 
themselves back into condition, and in autumn they are so fat 
that they would certainly take prizes at an exhibition of fat 
cattle. In the museum at Tromsoe there is preserved the 
backbone of a reindeer, shot on King Karl's Land, which had a 
layer of fat seven to eight centimetres in thickness on the loin. 

The reindeer, in regions where it has been much hunted, is 
very shy. but, if the ground is not quite even, one can creep 


Green Harbour on SpitzbergcB, after a photograph taken bj' A. Envall on the 20th July, IfcTS. 

within range, if the precaution be taken not to approach it 
from the windward. During the ruttiug season, which falls in 
late autumn, it sometimes happens that the reindeer attacks 
the hunter. 

The Spitzbergen reindeer is not tormented, like the rein- 
deer in Lapland and on Novaya Zemlya, by "gorm " (inch-long 
larvae of a fly, which are developed under the animal's skin). 
Its flesh is also better than that of the Lapp reindeer. None 
of the contagious diseases which of late years have raged so 

111.] THE POLAR BKAR. 107, 

dreadfully among the reindeer in northern Europe has ever, at 
least during the last fifty years, been common on Spitzbergen. 

The Polar bear occurs principally on coasts and islands which 
are surrounded by drift-ice, often even upon ice-fields far out at 
sea, for his best hunting is among the ice-floes. Now he is 
rather rare on the south-western coasts of Spitzbergen and 
Novaya Zemlya which are almost free of ice during summer, 
but more common on the northern parts of these islands, which 
are almost always surrounded by ice. Thus for instance during 
my many landings at Horn Sound, Bell Sound, Ice Fjord, Fore- 
land Sound, and King's Bay, on the west coast of Spitzbergen, 
I have never seen a single bear. On the other hand, bears 
were seen at nearly every resting-place during the boat voyage 
I made in 1861 wdth Torell in Hinloopen Strait and along the 
shores of the most northerly islands on Spitzbergen, also during 
the sledge journey which Palander and I made in the spring of 
1873 round North East Land. The Polar bear is besides found 
everywhere along the north coast of Asia and America, 
apparently in greater numbers the farther north we go. 
Sometimes too, first on ice and then swimming, he has 
reached the north coast of Norway, for instance, in March 
1853, when, according to a statement in Tromsoe Stiftstideiide 
(No. 4 for 1869), a Polar bear was killed in Kjoellefjord in East 
Fin mark. 

The bear is not difficult to kill. When he observes a man he 
commonly approaches in hope of prey, with supple movements, 
and in a hundred zigzag bends, in order to conceal the direction 
he intends to take, and thus keep his prey from being frightened. 
During his approach he often climbs up on blocks of ice, or 
raises himself on his hind leg^s, in order to o-et a more extensive 
view% or else stands snuffing up the air with evident care in all 
directions, in order, by the aid of smell, which he seems to rely 
upon more than sight, to ascertain the true kind and nature of 
the surrounding objects. If he thinks he has to do wdth a seal, 
he creeps or trails himself forward along the ice, and is said 
then to conceal with the fore-paws the only part of his body that 
contrasts with the white colour of the snow — his large black 
nose. If one keeps quite still, the bear comes in this way so 
near that one can shoot him at the distance of two gun-lengths, 
or, what the hunters consider safer, kill him with the lance. 
If an unarmed man falls in with a Polar bear, some rapid 
movements and loud cries are generally sufficient to put him to 
flight, but if the man himself flies, he is certain to have the 
bear after him at full speed. If the bear is wounded, he 
always takes to flight. He often lays snow upon the wound 
with his fore-paws ; sometimes in his death struggles he scrapes 
with his fore-feet a hole in the snow, in which he buries his head. 


^^'"hen a vessel lies at anchor, the bear sometimes swims out 
to it, and if one encamps in distant regions one often finds on 
getting up in the morning a Polar bear in the neighbourhood, 
who during the nio-ht has gone and nosed round the tent, 
without daring to attack it. I remember only one case of a 
bear venturing to look into an inhabited tent ; it was during 
Kane's journey. He was frightened on that occasion by the 
lighting of some lucifers. I have myself with my comrades 
encamped without a watch in regions where we were certain 
that our encampment would be visited, while we lay in deep 


Drawn by G. Mtitzel of Berlin. 

sleep, by some bear, that seldom, when the cook rose to make 
coffee, failed to come within range of shot. 

The bear on the other hand has a special fancy for taking an 
inventory of depots of provisions, of abandoned vessels, or of 
boats that have been left drawn up on the beach. Most Arctic 
travellers have remarkable adventures to relate, which both 
men and bears have gone through on such occasions. During our 
expedition in ISG-i, for instance, a large bear came and closely 
examined the contents of a boat covered with a tent, which we 


had left unwatcbed for a few hours at the bottom of Stor Fjord. 
He ate up a carefully-cooked reindeer roast, tore the reserve 
clothes, scattered about the ship-biscuit, &c. ; and after we had 
returned in the evening, gathered our things together in a heap, 
closed the tent and lain down to sleep, the same bear returned, 
and, while we slept, appropriated all the reindeer beef we had 
cooked to be used, in place of the roast we had lost, during the 
following day's journey. During one of the English expeditions 
in search of Franklin, there was killed on one occasion, a bear 
in whose stomach there was found, among many other articles, 
the stock of sticking-plaster from a neighbouring depot. The 
bear can also remove very large stones, but a layer of frozen 
sand is too much for him. 

The Polar bear swims exceedingly well, but not so fast as that 
he can escape in this way, if he be pursued in a boat ; if a boat 
and stout rowers are at hand he is accordingly done for, if, as 
often happens, he in attempting to escape seeks his deliverance 
in the sea. There, he is, as the hunters say, " as easy to kill as 
a sheep," but one has to make haste to get hold of the killed 
animal with a harpoon or in some other way, for it speedily 
sinks, unless it is very fat. 

The walrus-hunting vessels from Tromsoe brought home in 
1868 twenty, in J 869 fifty-three, in 1870 ninety-eight, in 1871 
seventy- four, and in 1872 thirty-three bears. It may be inferred 
from this that the Norwegian walrus-hunters kill yearly on an 
average at least a hundred bears. It is remarkable that in this 
large number a pregnant female or one with newly-born young 
is never found. ^ The female bear appears to keep herself well 
concealed during the time she is pregnant : perhaps in some 
ice-hole in the interior of the country. 

Whether the Polar bear hibernates during winter is not 
(luite settled ; various facts, however, point in this direction. 
For instance, he disappears almost completely from wintering 
stations during the dark time, and holes have sometimes 
been met with in which bears were concealed. Thus it once 
happened to Tobiesen that he went down with one foot into 
such a hole, to the no small dismay not only of the experienced 
Avalrus-hunter, but also of the bear. 

It is also stated that the bear during the dark time goes to 
the edge of the ice to seek his food. I cannot say positively 
whether this is the case or not ; but the fact points in an 
opposite direction, that while only a single bear was seen in the 
course of the winter in the open water in the neighbourhood of 
our winter station at Mussel Bay in 1872-73, Palander and I 

^ During the wintering of 1869-70 on East Greenland, Dr. Pansch once 
snw a female hear with quite small voung {Die zweite deufsche Nord- 
[wlar/ahrt, Leipzig, 1873-74. Vol. IL p. 157). 


almost daily saw bears on tlie hard frozen sea north of North 
East Land. Tracks of bears were visible there in all directions 
on the ice, and along with them light, sinuous traces of the fox. 
There were, on the other hand, no seal holes to be found, and it 
was accordingly difficult to understand wherefore the bears had 
chosen just this desolate stretch of ice as their haunt. The 
bears that were killed were besides uncommonly lean, the fat 
which they yielded being scarcely available as fuel for the 
sledge-party's cooking apparatus. 

During their extended excursions after prey the male and the 
female, the latter generally attended by one or two large young- 
ones, keep each other company. Larger numbers are seldom 
peen together, unless at places where a good many carcases of 
walruses, seals, or white fish are lying. 

In former times the sight of a bear created great dismay in 
Polar travellers, but now the w^alrus-hunters do not hesitate a 
moment to attack, lance in hand, a large number of bears. 
They have sometimes in this way killed as many as twelve 
within a short time. They depend less on the gun. During 
the expedition of 1861 Carl Chydenius shot three in a few 
minutes, close to his tent-covered boat. 

I do not know a single case in which any Norwegian walrus- 
hunter has been seriously wounded by a bear. It appears, 
however, as if this animal were bolder and more dangerous in 
regions wdiere he has not made acquaintance with man's dan- 
gerous hunting implements. During the first English and 
Dutch voyages to Novaya Zemlya, bears were met with at 
nearly every place where a landing was effected, in regions where 
the Polar bear is now wholly absent, and the travellers were 
compelled to undertake actual combats — combats which cost 
several human lives. During Barents' second voyage some men 
on the f^th September, 1595, landed on the mainland near the 
eastern mouth of Yugor Schar, in order to collect " a sort of 
diamonds occurring there " (valueless rock crystals), when a large 
white bear, according to De Veer, rushed forward and caught one 
of the stone collectors by the neck. On the man screaming 
" Who seizes me by the neck ? " a comrade standing beside 
answered, " A bear," and ran off. The bear immediately bit 
asunder the head of his prey, and sucked the blood. The rest of 
the men who were on land now came to his relief, attacking the 
bear with levelled guns and lances. But the bear was not 
frightened, but rushed forward and laid hold of a man in the 
rank of the attacking party, and killed him too, whereupon all 
the rest took to flight. Assistance now came from the vessel, 
and the bear was surrounded by thirty men, but against their 
will, because they had to do with a " grim, undaunted, and greedy 
beast." Of these thirty men only three ventured to attack the 


bear, whom these '' courageous " men finally killed, after a rather 
severe struggle. 

A large number of occurrences of a similar nature, though 
commonly attended with fortunate results, are to be found 
recorded in most of the narratives of Arctic travel. Thus 
a sailor was once carried off from a whaler caught in the ice 
in Davis' Straits, and in 1820, among the drift-ice in the 
sea between Greenland and Spitzbergen, the same fate was 
like to befall one of the crew of a Hull whaler; but he succeeded 
in effecting his escape by taking to flight, and throwing to the 
bear, first his only weapon of defence, a lance, and then his 
articles of clothing, one after the other.^ On the 6th of March 
1870, Dr. Boergen was attacked by a bear, and dragged a 
considerable distance.- It is remarkable that the bear did not 
this time either kill his prey, but that he had time to cry out, 
'■' A bear is dragging me away ; " and that, after the bear had 
dragged him several hundred yards and he had got free, he 
could, though very badly scalped, himself make his way back to 
the vessel. The scalping had been done by the bear attempting 
to crush the skull in its mouth, as it is accustomed to do to the 
seals it catches. Scoresby considers it dangerous to hunt the 
Polar bear in deep snow. The well-known Dane, C. Petersen, 
guide to McClintock, Kane and others, on the other hand, 
considered it as little dangerous to attack a bear as to slaughter 
a sheep. The Siberian traveller, Hedenstrom, says that a man 
may venture to do so with a knife tied to a walking-stick, and 
the Norwegian hunters, or at least the Norwegian-Finnish 
harpooners, express themselves in much the same way regarding 
" this noble and dangerous " sport. 

The bear's principal food consists of the seal and walrus. 
It is said that with a single stroke of his powerful paw he can 
cast a walrus up on the ice. On the other hand he seldom 
succeeds in catching the reindeer, because it is fleeter than the 
bear. I have, however, in North East Land, on two occasions, 
seen blood and hair of reindeer which had been caught by bears. 
There is not the least doubt that, along with flesh, the bear also 
eats vegetable substances, as seaweed, grass, and lichens. I 
have several times, on examining the stomach of a bear that 
had been shot, found in it only remains of vegetable substances; 
and the Avalrus-hunters know this so well that they called a 
large old Polar bear, which Dr. Theel shot at Port Dickson in 
1875, " an old Land-king" that was too fat to go a hunting, and 
therefore ate grass on land. He makes use besides of food of 
many different kinds ; a bear, for instance, in the winter 1865-66 

1 \V. Scoresby's des Jiingern, TagehvcJt einpr Reiite auf deni Wall fisch fang . 
Aus dem engl. iiehers, Hamburg, 1825, p. 127. 

- Die zweite deutsche Ncrdpolarfahrt, Vol. I. p. 465. 


consumed for Tobiesen the contents of two barrels of salt fish, 
which he had left behind in a deserted hut. 

The flesh of the bear, if he is not too old or has not recently- 
eaten rotten seal-flesh, is very eatable, being intermediate in 
taste between pork and beef The flesh of the young bear is 
white and resembles veal. The eating of the liver causes 
sudden illness. 

Although, as already mentioned, the Polar bear sometimes 
drifts to land and is killed in the northernmost part of Norway, 
his skin is not enumerated by Othere among the products of 
Finmark. It thus appears to have become known in Europe 
first after the Norwegians' discovery of Iceland and Greenland, 
and was at first considered an extraordinary rarity. A Norwegian 
of importance, who had emigrated to Iceland, and there suc- 
ceeded in getting hold of a female bear with two young, sent 
them in 880 to the King of Norway, and got in return a small 
vessel laden with wood. This animal had not then been seen in 
Norway before. The old sagas of the north are said to relate 
further that the priest Isleif, in order to be nominated bishop of 
Iceland, in the year 1056 presented a white bear to Kejsar 
Henrik. In the year 1064 the King of Denmark gave in 
exchange for a white bear from Greenland a well-equipped, full 
rigged, trading vessel, a considerable sum of money, and a 
valuable gold ring.^ 

Marco Polo also says in his account of the country of the 
peace-loving nomad Tatar tribes living in the north, that there 
are to be found there white bears most of thera twenty hands long, 
large black foxes, wild asses (reindeer), and a little animal called 
"rondes," from which we get the sable fur.- As the Polar 
bear is only to be found on the coast of the Arctic Ocean, these 
statements prove that in the thirteenth century the northernmost 
part of Asia was inhabited or at least visited by hunters. Olaus 
Magnus even describes the bear's mode of life not incorrectly, 
with the addition that it was customary to present their skins 
to the altars of cathedrals and parish churches in order that 
the feet of the priest might not freeze during mass.^ The Polar 
bear however first became more generally known in Western 
Europe by the Arctic voyages of the English and Dutch, and its 
price has now sunk so much that its skin, which was once con- 
sidered an article of extraordinary value, is now, in adjusting 
accounts between the owners of a vessel and the walrus-hunters, 
reckoned at from twenty-five to fifty Scandinavian crowns 
(say twenty-eight to fifty-six shillings). 

1 Grdnlands Mstorkhe Mindesmarker. Kjobenhavn, 1838, III. p. 384. 
^ Ramusio, Part II., Venice, 1583, p. 60. 
^ 01. Magnus. Rome edition, 1555, p. 621. 




In 1609 Stephen Bennet, during his seventh voyage to Bear 
Island, captured two young Polar bears, which were brought to 
England and kept at Paris Garden (Purchas, iii. p. 562). Now 
such animals are very frequently brought to Norway in order to 
be sent from thence to the zoological gardens of Europe, 
in which the Polar bear is seldom wanting. The capture is 
facilitated by the circumstance that the young bears seldom 
leave their mother when she is killed. 

Along with the reindeer and the bear there are found in 
the regions now in question only two other land-mammalia, 
the mountain fox [Vulpcs lagopus L.) and the lemming (Mi/ode» 
ohensis Brants). ^ The fox is rather common both on Spitz- 
bergen and Novaya Zemlya. Its abode sometimes consists of 


After Glaus Magnus (1555). 

a number of passages excavated in the ground and con- 
nected together, with several openings. Such a nest I saw on 
Wahlberg's Island in Hinloopen Strait on the summit of a 
fowl-fell; it was abundantly provided with a stock of half- 
rotten guillemots, concealed in the passages. The old foxes 
were not visible while we were there, but several young ones, 
some black, some variegated red and white, ran hither and 
thither from out the openings and played with supple move- 
ments in the neighbourhood of the nest. A similar nest also, 
with young that ran between its openings, played and hunted 
each other, I have seen on the north shore of Matotschkin 

1 It is stated that wolves also occur on Novaya Zemlya as far up as to 
Alatotsclikin Sound. They are exceedingly common on the north coasts of 
Asia and Eastern Europe. 


Schar, and uninhabited fox-holes and passages at several 
places on the west coast of Novaya Zemlya, commonly in the 
tops of dry sandy knolls. 

The lemming is not found on Spitzbergen, but must at 
certain seasons occur in incredible numbers on Novaya Zemlya, 
For at the commencement of summer, when the snow has 
recently melted away, there are to be seen, everywhere in the 
level fertile places in the very close grass of the meadows, foot- 
paths about an inch and a half deep, which have been formed 
during winter by the trampling of these small animals, under the 
snow, in the bed of grass or lichens which lies immediately 
above the frozen ground. They have in this way united with each 
other the dwellings they had excavated in the ground, and con- 
structed for themselves convenient ways, well protected against 
the severe cold of w^inter, to their fodder-places. Thou- 
sands and thousands of animals must be required in order to 
carry out this work even over a small area, and wonderfully 
keen must their sense of locality be, if, as seems probable, they 
can find their way with certainty in the endless labyrinth they 
have thus formed. During the .snow-melting season these pass- 
ages form channels for running off the water, small indeed, but 
everywhere to be met with, and contributing in a considerable 
degree to the drying of the ground. The ground besides is at 
certain places so thickly strewed with lemming dung, that it 
must have a considerable influence on the condition of the soil. 

In the Arctic regions proper one is not tormented by the 
mosquito,^ and viewed as a whole the insect fauna of the entire 
Polar area is exceedingly scanty, although richer than was 
before supposed. Arachnids, acarids, and podurids occur most 
plentifully. Dr. Stuxberg having been able during the Yenisej ex- 
pedition of 1875 to collect a very large number of them, which 
were worked out after his return — the podurids by Dr. T. 
TuLLBERG of Upsala, the arachnids by Dr. T. Koch of Niirnberg. 
These small animals are found in very numerous individual speci- 
mens, among mouldering vegetable remains, under stones and 
pieces of wood on the beach, creeping about on grass, straws, &c. 

Of the insects proper there were brought home from Novaya 

^ That is to say, not on Spitzbere^'en and Novaya Zemlya, for it is 
otherwise on the coast of the mainland. In West Greenland the mosquito 
as far north as the southern part of Disco Island is still so terrible, especi- 
ally to the new comer during the first days, that the face of any one who 
without a veil ventures into marshy ground overgrown with bushes, 
becomes in a few hours unrecognisable. The eyelids are closed with 
swelling and changed into water-filled bladders, suppurating tumours are 
formed in the head under the hair, &c. But when a man has once under- 
gone this unpleasant and painful inoculation, the body appears, at least 
for one summer, to be less susceptible to the mosquito-poison. 


Zemlya, dv^ring the same expedition, nine species of coleoptera, 
which were determined by Professor F. W. Maklin, of liel- 
singfors.^ , Some feAV hemiptera and lepidoptera and orthoptera, 
imd a large number of hymenoptera and diptera from the same 
expedition have been examined by Lector A. E. Holmgren of 
Stockhohii. Dr. Stuxberg also collected a large number of 
land-worms, which have been described by our countryman Dr. 
G. EiSEN, now settled in California. The occurrence of ^this 
animal group in a region where the ground at the depth of a 
few inches is continually frozen, appears to me exceedingly 
remarkable — and from a general point of view the occurrence of 
insects in a land which is exposed to a winter cold below the 
freezing-point of mercury, and where the animal cannot seek 
protection from it by creeping down to a stratum of earth which 
never freezes, presupposes that either the insect itself, its egg, 
larva, or pupa, may be frozen stiff without being killed. Only 
very few species of these small animals, however, appear to 
survive such a freezing test, and the actual land -e vertebrate- 
fauna of the Polar countries is therefore exceedingly scanty in 
comparison with that of more southerly regions. 

It is quite otherwise as regards the sea. Here animal life is 
exceedingly abundant as far as man has succeeded in making his 
way to the farthest north. At nearly every sweep the dredge 
brings up from the sea-bottom masses of decapods, Crustacea, 
mussels, asterids, echini,^ &c., in varying forms, and the surface 
of the sea on a sunny day swarms with pteropods, beroids, 
surface-crustacea, &c. Dr. Stuxberg will give, farther on, a 
sketch of this department of animal life, which in the high 
north is so rich in variety. In the meantime I can but refer to 
the large number of papers on this subject which have been 
issued in the publications of the Swedish Academy of Sciences. 

Of the higher animal types a greater number within the Polar 
territory occur in the sea than on the land. Thus by far the greater 

•^ As the only Chrysomela, which von Baer found at Matotschkin Schar, 
played so great a role in Arctic-zoological literature, I shall here enumerate 
the species of coleoptera, now known — after Professor Miiklin's determina- 
tion of the collections which we brought home with us- — to exist on Novaya 
Zemlya. These are : — Feronia horealis M^n^tr., F. gelida Makl., Amara 
alpina Fabr., Agahus sulqiiadratus Motsch., Homalota sibirka Miikl., 
Homalium angustatum Makl., Cylletron (?) hyperhoreitm Makl., Chri/somela 
sepientrionalis (?) M^n^tr., Prasocuris hannoverana Fabr., v. degenerata. 
From Vaygats Island we brought home seven species more, which were 
not found on Novaya Zemlya. The insects occur partly under stones, 
especially at places where lemming dung is abundant, or in tracts where 
birds'-nests are numerous, partly in warm days on willow-bushes. 

- Echini occur only very sparingly in the Kara Sea and the Siberian 
Polar Sea, but west of Novaya Zemlya at certain places in such numbers 
that they almost appear to cover the sea-bottom. 

I 2 


number of the birds I have enumerated above belong to the 
sea, not to the land, and this is the case with nearly all the 
animals which for three or four hundred years back have been the 
objects of capture in the Arctic regions. This industry, which 
during the whale-fishing period yielded a return perhaps equal to 
that of the American oil-wells in our time, has not now in the 
most limited degree the importance it formerly had. For the 
animal whose capture yielded this rich return, the right whale 
{Balcena mysticetus L.), is now so extirpated in these navigable 
waters, that the whalers were long ago compelled to seek new 
fishing-places in other parts of the Polar seas. It is therefore 
no longer the whale, but other species of animals which attract 
the hunter to the coasts of Spitzbergen and Novaya Zemlya. 

Of these animals the most important for the last fifty years 
has been the walrus, but it too is in course of being extirpated. 
It is now seldom found during summer on the west coast of 
Novaya Zemlya south of Matotschkin Schar. During our visits 
to that island in 1875, 1876, and 1878 we did not see one of 
these animals. But in the Kara Gate, on the east coast of 
Novaya Zemlya, and at certain places in the Kara Sea, abundant 
hunting is still to be had. Earlier in the year the walrus is also 
to be met with among the drift-ice on the west coast, and to the 
south, off the mouth of the Petchora, although the number of 
the animals that are captured by the Samoyeds at Chabarova 
appears to be exceedingly small. On the other hand the Dutcli, 
in their first voyages hither, saw a considerable number of 
these gregarious animals. The walrus, however, did not then 
occur here in such abundance as they did at the same time on 
Spitzbergen and Bear Island, which evidently formed their 
principal haunts. 

During Stephen Bennet's third voyage to Bear Island in 1606, 
700 to 800 walruses were killed there in six hours, and in 1608 
nearly 1,000 in seven hours. The carcases left lying on the 
beach attracted bears thither in such numbers that, for instance, 
in 1609 nearly fifty of them were killed by the crew of a single 
vessel. At one place eighteen bears were seen at once (Purchas, 
iii. p. 560). A Norwegian skipper was still able during a 
wintering in 1824-25 to kill 677 walruses. But when Tobiesen 
wintered there in 1865-66 he killed only a single walrus, and 
on the two occasions of my landing there I did not see one. 
Formerly the hunters almost every year, during late autumn 
when the drift-ice had disappeared, found " walrus on land," i.e. 
herds of several hundred walruses which had crept up on some 
low, even, sandy beach, to pass days and weeks there in an 
almost motionless state. During this period of rest most of 
them appear to be sunk in deep sleep, yet not all, for— according 
to the concurrent statements of all the walrus-hunters with 

1 18 THE VOYAGE OF THE VEGA. [chap. 

whom I have conversed on this subject — they keep a watch to 
warn their comrades when danger is near. If necessary pre- 
cautions are observed, i.e. if the hunters a23proach tlie beach 
where the animals are assembled Avheu the wind blows from the 
land, and kill with tlie lance those that lie nearest the water, the 
rest are slaughtered without difficulty, being prevented by the 
carcases of their dead comrades from reaching the sea. Now 
such an opportunity for the hunter happens exceedingly seldom ; 
there are famous headlands on which in former times the 
walrus was found by hundreds, in whose neighbourhood now not 
a single one is to be seen. 

In the sea too there are certain places which the walrus 
principally haunts, and which are therefore known by the 
hunters as walrus-baidvs. Such a bank is to be found in the 
neighbourhood of Muffin Island, situated on the north coast 
of Spitzbergen in 80° north latitude, and the animals that have 
been killed here must be reckoned by thousands. Another bank 
of the same kind is to be met with in 72° 15' north latitude, on 
the coast of Yalmal. The reason why the walruses delight to 
haunt these places is doubtless that they find there abundant food, 
which does not consist, as has often been stated, of seaweed, but 
of various living mussels from the bottom of the sea, principally 
3f2/a truncata and Savicava rugosa. Their fleshy parts are freed, 
before they are swallowed, so remarkably well from the shells, 
and cleaned so thoroughly, that the contents of the stomach 
have the appearance of a dish of carefully-shelled oysters. In 
collecting its food the walrus probably uses its long tusks to 
dig up the mussels and worms which are deeply concealed in 
the clay.^ Scoresby states that in the stomach of a walrus he 
found, along with small crabs, pieces of a young seal. 

The largest walrus tusks I have seen were two of a male 
wali'us purchased in the summer of 1879 at St. Lawrence Island, 
in the north part of Behring's Sea. They measured 830 and 
825 millimetres in length, their largest circumference was 227 
and 230 millimetres, and they weighed together 6,G80 gram. 
I have seen the tusks of females of nearly the same length, but 
they are distinguished from those of the male by being much 
more slender. The surface of the tusks is always full of cracks, 
but under it there is a layer of ivory free of cracks, which again 
incloses a grained kernel of bone which at some places is semi- 
transparent, as if drenched with oil. 

When the walrus ox gets very old, he swims about by 

^ Compare Malmgren's instructive papers in the publications of the 
Koyal (Swedisli) Academy of Sciences and Scoresby's Arctic Regions, 
Edinburgh, 1820, i., p. 502. That the wah-us eats mussels is already 
indicated in the Dutcli drawing from the beginning of the seventeenth 
century reproduced below, page 123. 




himself as a solitary individual, but otherwise animals of the 
same age and sex keep together in large herds. The young 
walrus long follows its mother, and is protected by her with 
evident fondness and very conspicuous maternal affection. Her 
first care, when she is pursued, is accordingly to save her young 
even at the sacrifice of her own life. A female walrus with 
young is nearly always lost, if they be discovered from a hunting 
boat. However eagerly she may try by blows and cuffs to get 
her young under water or lead her pursuers astray by diving 


A. Tusk of male, outside, b. Tusk of male, inside. 
One-tenth of natural size. 

c. Tusks of female. 

with it under her forepaw, she is generally overtaken and killed. 
Such a hunt is truly grim, but the walrus-hunter knows no 
mercy in following his occupation. The walrus, especially the 
old solitary male, sleeps and rests during autumn, when the 
drift-ice has disappeared, also in the water, with his head now 
above the surface, now under it, and with his lungs so strongly 
inflated that the body is kept floating, with part of the back 
projecting out of the water. The latter way of sleeping is 
mdeed possible only for so long at once as the animal can keep 




below, but this is said to be a very long time. If a hunting 
boat meets a walrus sleeping in this way it is first wakened witli 
a loud " strike up " before it is harpooned, " in order that in 
its fright it may not knock a hole in the boat with its tusks." 
The walrus sinks and is lost, if he is killed by a shot while in 
the water, or if he be shot while lying on a piece of ice, but 
without being killed so instantaneously that he cannot cast 
himself into the water in his death struggles. He is killed 
accordingly almost exclusively with the harpoon or lance. 

The harpoon consists of a large 
and strong iron hook, very sharp 
on the outer edge, and provided with 
a barb. The hook is loosely fixed 
to the shaft, but securely fastened 
to the end of a slender line ten 
fathoms long, generally made of 
walrus hide. The line is fastened 
at its other end to the boat, in the 
forepart of which it lies in a carefully 
arranged coil. There are from five 
to ten such harpoon lines in every 
hunting boat. When the hunters 
see a herd of walrus, either on a 
piece of drift-ice or in the water, 
they endeavour silently and against 
the wind to approach sufficiently 
near to one of the animals to be able 
to harpoon it. If this is managed, 
the walrus first dives and then 
endeavours to swim under water all 
he can. But he is fixed with the 
line to the boat, and must draw it 
along with him. His comrades 
swim towards the boat, curious to 
ascertain the cause of the alarm. 
A new walrus is fixed with another 
harpoon, and so it goes on, one after 
another, until all the harpoons are 
in use. The boat is now drawn forward at a whizzing speed, 
although the rowers hold back with the oars ; but there is no 
actual danger as long as all the animals draw in the same 
direction. If one of them seeks to take a different course 
from that of his comrades in misfortune, his line must be cut 
off, otherwise the boat capsizes. When the walruses get exhausted 
by their exertions and by loss of blood, the hunters begin to 
haul in the lines. One animal after the other is drawn to the 
stem of the boat, and there they commonly first get a blow on 


(1) Harpoon, and (2) Lance for Walrus- 
hunting. (3)" Skottel " for the capture 
of the White Whale. 
One-fifteenth of natural size. 


the head with the flat of a lance, and when they turn to guard 
against it, a lance is thrust into the heart. Since breechloaders 
have begun to be used by the walrus-hunters, they often prefer to 
kill the harpooned walruses with a ball instead of " lancing " them. 
To shoot an unharpooned walrus, on the other hand, the walrus 
hunters formerly considered an unpardonable piece of though t- 
lessness, because the animal was in this way generally wounded 
or killed without any advantage accruing. They therefore 
expressed themselves with great irritation against the tourists who 
sometimes came to Spitzbergen, and in this way destroyed the 
hunting. It cannot however be denied that they themselves in 
recent times have often followed the bad example, and many 
consider that this is one of the main reasons of the great dim- 
inution in the numbers of the walrus of late years. Should 
an international code be established for hunting in the Polar sea, 
all sliooting of unharpooned waliiises ought to be forbidden in 
the first place. 

Gregariousness and curiosity appear to be the main charac- 
teristics of the walrus. These qualities of theirs I had an 
opportunity of observing when once, on a glorious northern 
summer day, I roAved forward over a mirror-bright, drift-ice - 
bestrewn sea right into the midst of a considerable herd of 
these animals. Part followed the boat long distances quite 
peaceably, now and then emitting a grunting sound ; others 
swam quite close, and raised themselves high out of the water 
in order to take a view of the foreigners ; others, again, lay 
so closely packed on pieces of drift-ice as to sink them down 
to the water's edge, while their comrades swimming about 
in the sea endeavoured with violence to gain a place on the 
already overfilled resting-places, though a number of unoccupied 
pieces of ice floated up and down in the neighbourhood. 

When the hunters have killed a female walrus, it often 
happens that they take the young living. It is easily 
tamed, and soon regards its keeper with warm attachment. It 
seeks, as best it can — poorly equipped as it is for moving about 
on dry land — to follow the seamen on the deck, and gives 
itself no rest if it be left alone. Unfortunately, one does not 
succeed in keeping them long alive, probably because it is 
impossible to provide them with suitable food. There are 
instances, however, of the young of the walrus being brought 
to Europe alive. Thus it is said (Purchas, iii., p. 500), that 
Master Welden and Stephen Bennet, on the f|t"h'' July, 1608, 
caught two young walruses alive, one a male and the other 
a female. The female died before they reached England, but 
the male lived ten weeks. He was carried to court, shown 
to the king and many honourable gentlemen, and excited 
general admiration for his extraordinary form and great docility. 

1-22 THE VOYAGE OF THE VEGA. [chap. 

A young walrus that was taken to St. Petersburg in 1829-80, 
also died in a short time. It gave occasion to K. E. von Baer's 
famous treatise: "Anatomische und zoologische Uutersuch- 
ungen iiber das Wallross," printed in M6moires de rAcacUmie 
Impiriale des Sciences de St. Petcrsbourg, ser. vi,, t. iv. 2, 1838, 
p. 97. 

The walrus is hunted for its skin, blubber, and oil. The 
value of a full-grown walrus was calculated at Tromsoe, in 
1868, in settling accounts between the owners of hunting 
sloops and the hunters, at eighty Scandinavian crowns (say 


After Olaus Magnus (1555). 

4/. 10^.), but it sank in 1871 to only forty-eight crowns (say 
'11. 15s.). The flesh of the walrus is coarse and train-flavoured, 
and is eaten by the hunters only in cases of necessity. From 
my own experience, however, I can certify that its compara- 
tively small tongue is very delicious. By the Eskimo and the 
Chukchis the flesh of the walrus is considered a delicacy. 

The walrus was doubtless hunted by the Polar tribes long 
before the historic period,^ but it is mentioned for the first time 
in writing in the sketch of Othere's Arctic journey. The 
narrative shows that it was then captured on the north coast of 
Scandinavia. This appears the less improbable, as a walrus now 
and then even in our days drifts to land on the Norwegian coast, 
and walruses are still annually killed off Swjatoinos on the 
Kola peninsula.'-^ The walrus is very correctly described in the 
well-known Norse confession written in the end of the eleventh 

1 Implements of walras-bone occur among the Northern grave finds. 
- Compare note ^ at page 41 above. 




ceutury, " Konungs skuggsja" (the King's Minor), as an animal 
resembling the seal/ except that, besides several smaller teeth, it 
has two large tusks which project beyond the upper jaw. This 
clear and unexaggerated sketch is however replaced in the later 
writings of the middle ages by the most extraordinary accounts 
of the animal's appearance and mode of capture. Thus Albertus 
Magnus/' wlio died in 1280, says that the walrus is taken by the 

WALRUSES (female with young). 
Old Dutch cirawing.3 

hunter, while the sleeping animal hangs by its large tusks to a 
cleft of the rock, cutting out a piece of its skin and fastening to 

1 I saw in 1858 a Phoca harhata with tusks worn away by age, which 
in its reddisli-brown colour very much resembled a walrus, and was little 
inferior to it in size. 

- Albertus Magnus, De animalihus, Mantua, 1479, Lib. xxiv. At the 
same place however is given a description of the whale-fishery grounded 
on actual experience, but with the shrewd addition that what the old 
authors had written on the subject did not correspond with experience. 

3 This drawing is made after a facsimile by Frederick Miiller from 
Hessel Gerritz, Descriptio et delineatio geographica detcctionis freii, &c. 
Amsterodami, 1613. Tlie same drawing is reproduced coloured in Blavii 
Atkis major, Part I., 1665, p. 25, with the inscription: "Ad vivum 
delineatum ab Hesselo G.A." 




it a strong rope whose other end is tied to trees, posts, or large 
rings fixed to rocks. The wahus is then wakened by throwing 
large stones at its head. In its attempts to escape it leaves its 
hide behind. It perishes soon after, or is thrown up half dead 
on the beach. He further states that walrus lines on account of 
their strength are suitable for lifting great weights, and that they 
are always on sale at Cologne. They were probably used at the 


building of the Cathedral there. Similar extraordinary rej)re- 
sentations of the appearance and mode of life of the walrus are 

^ The drawing is taken from a Japanese manuscript bool^ of travels- 
No. 360 of the Japanese Hbrarj' which I brought home. According to a 
communication by an attaclie of the Japanese embassy wliich visited Stock- 
holm in the autumn of 1880, the book is entitled Kau-kai-i-fun^ "Narrative 
of a remarkable voyage on distant seas." The manuscript, in four volumes, 
was written in 1830. In the introduction it is stated that when some 
Japanese, on the 21st November, 1793 (?), were proceeding with a cargo 
of rice to Yesso, they were thrown out of their course by a storm, and 
were driven far away on the sea, till in the beginning of the following 
June they came to some of the Aleutian islands, which had recently been 
taken by the Russians. They remained there ten months, and next year 
in the end of June they came to Ocliotsk. The following year in autumn 
they were carried to Irkutsk, where they remained eight years, well treated 
by the Russians. They were then taken to St. Petersburg, where they 
had an audience of the Czar, and got furs and splendid food. Finally 
they were sent back by sea round Cape Horn to Japan in one of Captain 
von Krusenstern's vessels. They were handed over to the Japanese 
authorities in the spring of 1805, after having been absent from their 
native country about thirteen years. From Nagasaki they were carried to 
Yeddo, where they were subjected to an examination. One person put 
questions, another wrote the answers, and a third showed by drawings all 
the remarkable events they had survived. They were then sent to their 
native place. In the introduction it is further said that the shipwrecked 
were unskilful seamen, by whom little attention was often given to the 
most important matters. A warning accordingly is given against full 
reUance on their accounts and the drawings in the book. The latter 
occupy the fourth part of the work, consisting of more than 100 quarto 
pages. It is remarkable that the first Russian circumnavigation of the 
globe, and the first journey of the Japanese round the world, hapj^ened at 
the same time. 


repeated in a more or less altered form even by Olaus Magnus, 
whose representation of the walrus is shown by the woodcut on 
page 123. 

The "t'' of August 1556, the year after the publication of the 
v/ork of Olaus Magnus, a West European saw for the first time 
some actual walruses, which had been killed by Russian hunters 
at Vaygats Island. No description of the animal, however, 
is given, but from that period all the members of the English 
and Dutch north-east expeditions had opportunities of seeing 
wah'uses in hundreds and thousands. It was now first that man 
learned actually to know this remarkable animal which had 
been decked out in so many fables. To this period belongs the 
beautiful and natural delineation of the walrus which is given 

A peculiarity of the walrus may be mentioned here. The 
hide, especially in old males, is often full of wounds and scratches, 
which appear to be caused partly by combats and scraping 
against sharj) pieces of ice, partly by some severe disease of the 
skin. Mr. H. W. Elliot has remarked this of the walrus in 
Behring's Sea.^ The walrus is also troubled with lice, which 
is not the case, so far as I know, with any kind of seal. 
Masses of intestinal worms are found instead in the stomach 
of the seal, while on the contrary none are found in that 
of the walrus. 

With reference to the other animals that are hunted in the 
Polar Sea I am compelled to be very brief, as I have scarcely 
any observations to make regarding them which are not already 
sufficiently known by numerous writings. 

There are three kinds .of seals on Novaya Zemlya. Storsaelen, 
the bearded seal {PJioca harhata, Fabr.) occurs pretty generally 
oven on the coasts of Spitzbergen, though never in large flocks. 
The pursuit of this animal is the most important part of the 
seal-fishing in these waters, and the bearded seal is still killed 
yearly by thousands. Their value is reckoned in settling 
accounts between owners and hunters at twenty to twenty-five 
Scandinavian crowns (say 22s. to 27s. Qd.). 

G-rocnlanch or Jan-Mayen-saekn, the Greenland seal {Phoca 
Grocnlandica Miiller), which at Jan Mayen gives occasion to so 
profitable a fishing, also is of general occurrence among the 
drift-ice in the Murman and Kara seas. 

Snadden, the rough or bristled seal {Phoca Mspida, Erxl.) is also 
common on the coast. These animals in particular are seen to 
lie, each at its hole, on the ice of fjords, which has not been 
broken up. It also many times follows with curiosity in the 

1 A Report upon the Condition of Affairs in the Territory of Alaska. 
Washington, 1875, p. IfiO. 


6-' fc" 




wake of a vessel for long distances, and can tlien be easily shot, 
because it is often so fat that, unlike the t^Yo other kinds of 
,seals, it does not sink when it has been shot dead in the 

Kkqwiytscn, the bladdernose seal, [Gystoijhm'a cristata, Erxl.) 
the walrus-hunters say they have never seen on Novaya Zemlya, 



Swedish, Stoisiil. (Phoca barbata, Fabr ) 


Swedish, Snadd. {Phoca hispida, Eixl.) 

but it is stated to occur yearly in pretty large numbers among 
the ice W.S.W. of South Cape on Spitzbergen. Only once 
during our many voyages in the Polar Sea has a Klapviyts been 
seen, viz , a young one that was killed in 1858 in the neighbour- 
hood of Bear Island. 

Of the various species of whales, the narwhal, distinguished 




by its long and Taluable horn projecting in the longitudinal 
direction of the body from the upper jaw, now occurs so seldom on 
the coast of ^ovaya Zemlya that it has never been seen there ' 
by the Norwegian walrus-hunters. It is more common at Hope 
Island, and Witsen states (p. 903) that large herds of narwhals 
have been seen between Spitzbergen and Novaya Zemlya. 

The white whale or beluga, of equal size with the narwhal, 
on the other hand, occurs in large shoals on the coasts of 
Spitzbergen and Z!sovaya Zemlya, especially near the mouths of 
fresh-water streams. These animals were formerly captured, but 
n)t with any great success, by means of a peculiar sort of 
harpoon, called by the hunters '• skottel." 2s ow they are caught 
with nets of extraordinary size and strength, which are laid out 
from the shore at places which the white whales are wont tK3 
frequent. In this way there were taken in the year 1S71, when 
the fishing appears to have been most productive, by vessels 
belonging to Tromsoe alone. 2,167 white whales. Their value 
was estimated at fifty-four SL-andinavian cro"«Tis each (about 3/.). 

THi: WHITE TTHALE. (flrfj 

After a drawing by A. V\\ 

15, Pallas.) 

The fishing, though tempting, is yet very uncertain ; it sometimes 
falls out extraordinarily abundant as in the spring of ISSO, when 
a skipper immediately on arriving at !Magdalena Bay caught 300 
of these animals at a cast of the net. Of the whales thus 
killed not only the blubber and hide are taken away, but also, 
when possible, the carcases, which, when cheap freight can be 
had, are utilised at the guano manufactories in the north of 
]S^oTway. After having lain a whole year on the beach at 
Spitzbergen they may be taken on board a vessel without any 
great inconvenience, a proof that putrefaction proceeds ^ith 
extreme slowness in the Polar regions. 

With its bhnding milk-white hide, on which it is seldom 
possible to discover a spot, wrinkle, or scratch, the full-grown 
white whale is an animal of extraordinary beauty. The young 
whales are not white, but very Hght greyish brown. The white 
whale is taken in nets not only by the Norwegians at Spitzbergen, 
but also by the Russians and Samoyeds at Chabarova. In 
former times they appear to have been also caught at the mouth 
of the Yenisej, to judge by the large number of vertebrae that 

in.] WHALES. 129 

are found at the now deserted settlements there. The white 
whale there goes several hundred kilometres up the river. I 
have also seen large shoals of this small species of whale on the 
north coast of Spitzbergen and the Taimur peninsula. 

Other species of the whale <xcur seldom on Novaya Zemlya. 
Thus on this occasion only two small whales were seen durincf 
our passage from Tromsoe, and I do not remember having seen 
more than one in the sea round Novaya Zemlya in the course of 
my two previous voyages to the Yenisej. At the north part of 
the island, too, these animals occur so seldom, that a hunter told 
me, as something remarkable, that towards the end of July, 1873, 
W.X.W. of the western entrance to Matotschkin Schar 20' to 30' 
from land, be had seen a larcje number of whales, belonoins to 
two species, of ^hich one was a slcuthval, and the other had as 
it were a top, instead of a fin, on the back. 

It is very remarkable that whales still occur in great abun- 
dance on the Norwegian coast, though they have been hunted 
there for a thousand years back, but, on the other hand, if we 
except the little white whale, only occasionally east of the 
White Sea. The whale fishing which was carried on on so 
grand a scale on the west coast of Spitzbergen, has therefore 
never been prosecuted to any great extent on ]*s ovaya Zemlya : 
and fragments of skeletons of the whale which are found thrown 
up in such quantities on the shores of Spitzbergen, are not to be 
found, so far as my experience reaches, either on the shores of 
Novaya Zemlya, on the coast of the Kara Sea, or at the places 
on the north coast of Siberia between the Yenisej and the Lena, 
at which we landed. The sacrifices which were so long made 
in vain in the endeavour to find a passage to China in this 
direction accordingly were not compensated, as on Spitzbergen, 
by the rise of a profitable whale fishery. Meeting with a whale 
is spoken of by the first seafarers in these regions as something 
very remarkable and dangerous ; for instance, in the account of 
Stephen Burrough's voyage in 1556 : — "' (^n St. .James his 
day, there was a monstrous whale aboord of us, so neere to our 
side that we might have thrust a sworde or any other weapon in 
him, which we durst not doe for feare he should have over- 
throwen our shippe ; and then I called my company together, 
and all of us shouted, and with the crie that we made he de- 
parted from us ; there was as much above water of his back as 
the bredth of our pinnesse, and at his falling down he made 
such a terrible noise in the water, that a man would greatly have 
marvelled, except he had known the cause of it ; but, God be 
thanked, we were quietly delivered of him." ^ When Xearchus 
sailed with the fleet of Alexander the Great from the Indus to 
the Red Sea, a whale also caused so great a panic that it was 

1 Haklavt, first edition, p. 317. 


i;K) the voyage of the VEGA. [ciiAr. in. 

only with difficulty that the commander could restore order 
among the frightened seamen, and get the rowers to row to the 
place where the whale spouted water and caused a commotion 
in the sea like that of a whirlwind. All the men now shouted, 
struck the water with their oars, and sounded their trumpets, so 
that the large, and, in the judgment of the Macedonian heroes, 
terrible animal, was frightened. It seems to me that from these 
incidents we may draw the conclusion that great whales in 
Alexander's time were exceedingly rare in the sea which 
surrounds Greece, and in Burrough's time in that which washes 
the shores of England. Quite otherwise was the whale regarded 
on Spitzbergen some few years after Burrough's voyage by the 
Dutch and English whalers. At the sight of a whale all men 
were out of themselves with joy, and rushed down hito the boats 
in order from them to attack and kill the valuable animal. The 
fishery was carried on with such success, that, as has already 
been stated, the right whale {Balcena mysticetus L.), whose 
pursuit then gave full employment to ships by hundreds, and to 
men by tens of thousands, is now practically extirpated. Thus 
during our many voyages in these waters we have only seen one 
such whale, which happened on the 23rd June, 1864, among the 
drift-ice off the west coast of Spitzbergen in 78° N.L. As the 
right whale still occurs in no limited numbers in other jiarts of 
the Polar Sea, and as there has been no whale fishing on the 
coast of Spitzbergen for the last forty or fifty years, this state of 
things shows how difficult it is to get an animal type to return 
to a region where it has once been extirpated, or from which it 
has been driven away. 

The whale which Captain Svend Foeyn has almost exclusively 
hunted on the coast of Finmark since 1864 belongs to quite 
another species, hlaohvcden [Balccnoptera Sihhaldii Gray) ; and 
there are likewise other species of the whale which still in pretty 
large numbers follow shoals offish to the Norwegian coast, wdiere 
they sometimes strand and are killed in considerable numbers. 
A tandkval, killer or sword-fish [Orca gladiator Desm.) was even 
captured some years ago in the harbour of Tromsoe. This whale 
was already dying of suffocation, caused by an attempt to 
swallow an eider which entered the gullet, not, as the proper way 
is, with the head, but with the tail foremost. When the mouth- 
ful should have slidden down, it was prevented by the stiff 
feathers sticking out, and the bird stuck in the whale's throat, 
which, to judge by the extraordinary struggles it immediately 
began to make, must have caused it great inconvenience, 
which was increased still more when the inhabitants did not 
neglect to take advantage of its helpless condition to harpoon it. 



Tlie Origin of the names Yugor Schar and Kara Sea — Rules for Sailing 
through Yugor Schar — The "Highest Mountain" on Earth— An- 
chorages — Entering the Kara Sea — Its Surroundings — The Inland-ice 
of Novaya Zenilya — True Icebergs rare in certain parts of tlie Polar 
Sea — The Natural Conditions of the Kara Sea — Animals, Plants, Bog 
Ore — Passage across the Kara Sea — The Influence of the Ice on 
the Sea-bottom — Fresh-water Diatoms on Sea-ice — Arrival at Port 
Dickson- — Animal Life there — Settlers and Settlements at the Mouth of 
the Yenisej — The Flora at Port Dickson — Evertebrates — Excursion to 
\Vliite Ishind — Yalmal — Previous Visits — Nummelin's Wintering on the 
Briochov Islands. 

In crossing to Vaygats Island I met the Lena, which then first 
steamed to the rendezvous that had been fixed upon. I gave 
the captain orders to anchor without delay, to coal from the 
Express, and to be prepared immediately after my return from 
the excursion to weigh anchor and start along with the other 
vessels. I came on board the Vega on the evening of the 31st 
July, much pleased and gratified with what I had seen and 
collected in the course of my excursion on Vaygats Island. 
The Lena, however, was not quite ready, and so the start was put 
off till the morning of the 1st August. All the vessels then 
weighed anchor, and sailed or steamed through Vaygats Sound 
or Yugor Schar into the Kara Sea. 

We do not meet with the name Yugor Schar in the oldest 
narratives of travel or on the oldest maps. But it is found in 
an account dating from 1611, of a Eussian commercial route 
between " Pechorskoie Zauorot and Mongozei," which is annexed 
to the letter of Richard Finch to Sir Thomas Smith, already 
quoted (Purchas, iii. p. 539). The name is clearly derived 
from the old name, Jugaria, for the land lying south of the sound, 
and it is said, for instance, in the map to Herberstein's work, 
to have its name from the Hungarians, who are supposed to 
derive their origin from these regions. The first Dutch north- 
east explorers called it Vaygats Sound or Fretiim Nassovicum. 
More recent geographers call it also Pet's Strait, which is 
incorrect, as Pet did not sail through it. 

There was at first no special name for the gulf between the 
Taimur peninsula and Novaya Zemlya. The name " Carska 
Bay " however is to be found already in the information about 
sailing to the north- east, communicated to the Muscovie Oompanie 
by its principal factor, Antonie Marsh (Purchas, iii. p. 805). 
At first this name w^as applied only to the estuary of the Kara 
river, but it was gradually transferred .to the whole of the 
neighbouring sea, whose oldest Samoyed name, also derived 

K 2 


from a river, was in a somewhat Russianised form, "JSTeremskoe" 
(compare Purchas, iii. p. 805, Witsen, p. 017). I shall in the 
following part of this work comprehend under the name " Kara 
Sea" the whole of that gulf which from 77'^ N.L. between Cape 
Chelyuskin and the northern extremity of Novaya Zemlya extends 
■ towards the south to the north coast of Europe and Asia. 

Captain Palander gives the following directions for sailing 
through the sound between Vaygats Island and the mainland : — 

" As Yugor Straits are difficult to discover far out at sea, good 
solar observations ought to be taken on approaching them, where 
such can be had, and after these the course is to be shaped 
in the middle of the strait, preferably about N.E. bythe compass. 
On coming nearer land (three to four P^nglish miles) one dis- 
tinguishes the straits with ease. Afterwards there is nothing 
else to observe than on entering to keep right in the middle of 
the fairway. 

" If one wishes to anchor at the Samoyed village one ought 
to keep about an Enghsh mile from the land on the starboard, 
and steer N.E. by the compass, until the Samoyed huts are 
seen, when one bends off from starboard, keeping the church. a 
little to starboard. For larger vessels it is not advisable to go 
in shallower water than eight to nine fathoms, because the depth 
then diminishes rather suddenly to from three to f )ur fathoms. 

" From the Samoyed village the course is shaped right to 
the south-east headland of Vaygats Island (Suchoi Nos), which 
ought to be passed at the distance of half an English mile. 
Immediately south-west of this headland lies a very long shoal, 
which one ought to take care of. 

" From this headland the vessel is to be steered N.^E. out 
into the Kara Sea. With this course there are two shoals on 
starboard and two on port at the distance of half an English mile. 

" The depth is in general ten fathoms ; at no place in the 
fairway is it less than nine fathoms. 

"Vessels of the greatest draught may thus sail through 
Yugor Schar. In passing the straits it is recommended to 
keep a good outlook from the top, whence in clear weather 
the shoals may easily be seen." 

In the oldest narratives very high mountains, covered Avith ice 
and snow, are spoken of as occurring in the neighbourhood of 
the sound between Vaygats Island and the mainland. It is 
even said that here were to be found the highest mountains 
on earth, whose tops were said to raise themselves to a height 
of a hundred German miles.^ The honour of having the highest 

^ Les moeurs et usages des Ostiaclces, par Jean Bernard jVInller, Capitaine 
de dragon au service de la Suede, pendant sa captivitt^ en Siberie (Recueil 
de Voiages au Nord. T. VIII., Amsterdam, 1727, p. 389). 


mountains on eartli has since been ascribed by the dwellers 
on the plains of Northern Russia to the neighbourhood of 
Matotschkin Schar, "where the mountains are even much higher 
than Bolschoj Kamen," a rocky eminence some hundreds of feet 
high at the mouth of the Petchora — an orographic idea which 
forms a new^ proof of the correctness of the old saying : — " In the 
kingdom of the blind the one-eyed is king." Matotschkin Schar 
indeed is surrounded by a wild Alpine tract with peaks that 
rise to a height of 1,000 to 1,200 metres. On the other hand 
there are to be seen around Yugor Straits only low level plains, 
terminating towards the sea with a steep escarpment. These 
plains are early free of snow, and are covered with a rich turf, 
which yields good pasture to the Samoyed reindeer herds. 

Most of the vessels that wish to sail into the Kara Sea through 
Yugor Schar require to anchor here some days to wait for favour- 
able winds and state of the ice. There are no good harbours 
in the neighbourhood of the sound, but available anchorages 
occur, some in the bay at Chabarova, at the western entrance 
of the sound ; some, according to the old Dutch maps, on the 
eastern side of the sound, between Mestni Island (Staten Eiland) 
and the mainland. I have, however, no experience of my own 
of the latter anchorages, nor have I heard that the Norwegian 
walrus-hunters have anchored there. Perhaps by this time they 
are become too shallow. 

"When we sailed through Yugor Schar in 1878, the soand was 
completely free of ice. The weather was glorious, but the wind 
w-as so light that the sails did little service. In consequence 
of this we did not go very rapidly forward, especially as I wished 
to keep the three vessels together, and the sailing ship Ex]3ress, 
not to be left behind, had to be towed by the Fraser. Time was 
lost besides in dredging and taking specimens of water. The 
dredcjino's gave at some places, for instance off Chabarova, a rich 
yield, especially of isopods and sponges. The samples of water 
showed that already at a limited depth from the surface it had 
a considerable salinity, and that therefore no notable portion 
of the mass of fresh water, which the rivers Kara, Obi, Tas, and 
Yenisej and others pour into the Kara Sea, flows through this 
sound into the Atlantic Ocean. 

In the afternoon of the 1st August we passed through the 
sound and steamed into the sea lying to the east of it, which 
had been the object of so many speculations, expectations, and 
conclusions of so many cautious governments, merchants eager 
for gain, and learned cosmographers, from the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries, and which even to the geographer and 
man of science of the present has been a marc incoynitum down 
to the most recent date. It is just this sea that formed the 
turning-point of all the foreg(jing north-east voyages, fron« 


Burrough's to Wood's and Vlamiugh's, and it may therefore not 
be out of place here, before I proceed further with the sketch 
of our journey, to give some account of its surroundings and 

If attention be not fixed on the little new-discovered island, 
" Eusamheten," the Kara Sea is open to the north-east. It 
is bounded on the west by Novaya Zemlya and Vaygats Island ; 
on the east by the Taimur peninsula, the land between the 
Pjaesina and the Yenisej and Yalmal ; and on the south by the 
northernmost portion of European Russia, Beli Ostrov, and the 
large estuaries of the Obi and the Yenisej. The coast between 
Cape Chelyuskin and the Yenisej consists of low rocky heights, 
formed of crystalline schists, gneiss, and eruptive rocks, from 
the Yenisej to beyond the most southerly part of the Kara 
Sea, of the Gyda and Yalmal tundras beds of sand of equal 
fineness, and at Vaygats Island and the southern part of 
Novaya Zemlya (to ^o'' N.L.) of limestone and beds of schist ^ 
which slope towards the sea with a steep escarpment three 
to fifteen metres high, but form, besides, the substratum of a 
level plain, full of small collections of water which is quite 
free of snow in summer. North of 73° again the west coast 
of the Kara Sea is occupied by mountains, which near 
Matotschkin are very high, and distributed in a confused 
mass of isolated peaks, but farther north become lower and 
take the form of a plateau. 

Where the mountains begin, some few or only very incon- 
siderable collections of ice are to be seen, and the very moun- 
tain tops are in summer free of snow. Farther north glaciers 
commence, which increase towards the north in number and 
size, till they finally form a continuous inland-ice which, like 
those of Greenland and Spitzbergen, with its enormous ice-sheet, 
levels mountains and valleys, and converts the interior of the 
land into a wilderness of ice, and forms one of the fields for the 
formation of icebergs or glacier-iceblocks, which play so great 
a rdlc in sketches of voyages in the Polar seas. I have not 
myself visited the inland-ice on the northern part of Novaya 
Zemlya, but doubtless the experience I have previously gained 
during an excursion with Dr. Bero^gren on the inland-ice of 
Greenland in the month of July 1870, after all the snow on if 
had melted, and with Captain Palander on the inland-ice of 
North-East Land in the beginning of June 1873, he/ore any 
melting of snoiv had commenced, is also applicable to the ice- 
wilderness of north Novaya Zemlya. 

^ I come to this conclusion from the appearance of tlie strata as seen 
from the sea, and from their nature on Vaygats Island and the west coast 
of Novaya Zemlya. So far as I know, no geologist has landed on this part 
of the east coast. 


As on Spitzbergen the ice-field here is doubtless interrupted 
by deep bottomless clefts, over which the snowstorms of winter 
throw fragile snow-bridges, which conceal the openings of the 
abysses so completely that one may stand close to their edge 
without having any suspicion that a step further is certain 
death to the man, who, without observing the usual precaution 
of being bound by a rope to his companions, seeks his way 
over the blinding-white, almost velvet-like, surface of this 
snow-field, hard packed indeed, but bound together by no 
firm crust. If a man, after taking necessary precautions against 
the danger of tumbling down into these crevasses, betakes 
himself farther into the country in the hope that the apparently 
even surface of the snow will allow of long day's marches, he is 
soon disappointed in his expectations ; for he comes to regions 
where the ice is everywhere crossed by narrow depressions, 
canals, bounded by dangerous clefts, with perpendicular walls 
up to fifteen metres in height. One can cross these deytressions 


A. Open glacier-caual. b. Snow-filled canal, c. Canal concealed by a snow-vault. 
D. Glacier-clefts. 

only after endless zigzag wanderings, at places where they have 
become filled with snow and thereby passable. In summer 
again, when the snow has melted, the surface of the ice- 
wilderness has quite a different appearance. The snow has 
disappeared and the ground is now formed of a blue ice, which 
however is not clean, but everywhere rendered dirty by 
a grey argillaceous dust, carried to the surface of the 
glacier by wind and rain, probably from distant mountain 
heights. Among this clay, and even directly on the ice itself, 
there is a scanty covering of low vegetable organisms. The 
ice-deserts of the Polar lands are thus the habitat of a peculiar 
flora, which, insignificant as it appears to be, forms however 
an important condition for the issue of the conflict which goes 
on here, year after year, century after century, between the sun 
and the ice. For the dark clay and the dark parts of plants 
absorb the warm rays of the sun better than the ice, and 
therefore powerfully promote its melting. They eat themselves 



[chap. IV. 

down ill perpendicular cylindrical holes thirty to sixty centi- 
metres in depth, and from a few millimetres to a whole metre 
in diameter. The surface of the ice is thus destroyed and 
broken up. 

After the melting of the snow there appears besides a numbGr" 
of inequalities, and the clefts previously covered with a fragile 
snow-bridge now gape before the wanderer where he goes 
forward, with their bluish-black abysses, bottomless as far as 
we can depend on ocular evidence. At some places there are 


After a drawing by S. Berggren, 23rd July, 1870. 

also to be found in the ice extensive shallow depressions, down 
whose sides innumerable rapid streams flow in beds of azure- 
blue ice, often of such a volume of water as to form actual 
rivers. They generally debouch in a lake situated in the middle 
of the depression. The lake has generally an underground 
outlet through a grotto-vault of ice several thousands of feet 
high. At other places a river is to be seen, which has bored 
itself a hole through the ice-sheet, down which it suddenly 
disappears with a roar and din which are heard far and wide, 


\t Foul B;iy, on the west coast of Spitzbergen, after a pliotograph taken by A. Envall. 

30th August, 1S72. 


Udde Bay, on Xovaya Zeinlya, after a drawing by Hj. Theel (1875). 




and at a little distance from it there is projected from the ice a 
column of water, which, like a geyser with a large intermittent 
jet in which the water is mixed with air, rises to a great height. 
Now and then a report is heard, resembling that of a cannon 
shot fired in the interior of the icy mass. It is a new crevasse 
that has been formed, or if one is near the border of the ice- 
desert, an ice-block that has fallen down into the sea. For, like 
ordinary collections of water, an ice-lake also has its outlet into 
the sea. These outlets are of three kinds, viz., ice-rapids, in 
which the thick ice-sheet, split up and broken in pieces, is 


Afier a desit^n drawn and lithographed by a Greenland Eskimo. 

pressed forward at a comparatively high speed down a narrow 
steeply-sloping valley, where ice-blocks tumble on each other 
with a crashing noise and din, and from which true icebergs 
of giant-like dimensions are projected in hundreds and thousands ; 
broad, sloivly-advayicing glaciers, which terminate towards the 
sea with an even perpendicular face, from which now and then 
considerable ice-blocks, but no true icebergs, fall down ; and 
smaller statiormry glaciers, which advance so slowly that the ice 
in the brim melts away about as fast as the whole mass of ice 
glides forward, and which thus terminate at the beach not with 


a perpendicular face but with a long ice-slope covered with clay, 
sand, and gravel. 

The inland-ice on Novaya Zemlya is of too inconsiderable 
extent to allow of any large icebergs being formed. There are 
none such accordingly in the Kara Sea,^ and it is seldom that 
even a large glacier ice-block is to be met with drifting about. 

The name ice-house, conferred on the Kara Sea by a 
famous Russian man of science, did not originate from the large 
number of icebergs,^ but from the fact that the covering of 
ice, which during winter, on account of the severity of the cold 
and the slight salinity of the surface-water, is immensely thick, 
cannot, though early broken up, be carried away by the marine 
currents and be scattered over a sea that is open even during 
winter.^ Most of the ice formed during winter in the Kara- Sea, 
and perhaps some of that which is drifted down from the Pola: 
basin, is on the contrary heaped by the marine currents against 
the east coast of Novaya Zemlya, where during early summer it 
blocks the three sounds which unite the Kara Sea with the 
Atlantic. It was these ice-conditions which caused the failure of 
all the older north-east voyages and gave to the Kara Sea its 

1 Sometimes, however, icebergs are to be met with in the most nortlierly 
part of the Kara Sea and on the north coast of Novaya Zemlya, whither 
they may drive down from Franz Josef Land or from other yet unlvnown 
Polar lands lying farther north. 

2 In most of the literary narratives of Polar journeys colossal icebergs 
play a very prominent part in the author's delineations both with the pencil 
and the pen. The actual fact, however, is that icebergs occur in far 
greater numbers in the seas which are yearly accessible than in those in 
which the advance of the Polar travellers' vessel is hindered by impene- 
trable masses of ice. If we may borrow a term from the geography of 
plants to indicate the distribution of icebergs, they may be said to be more 
boreal than/»o/«;' forms of ice. All the fishers on the coast of Newfound- 
land, and most of the captains on the steamers between New York and 
Liverpool, have some time or other seen true icebergs, but to most north- 
east voyagers this formation is unknown, though the name iceberg is often 
in their narratives given to glacier ice-blocks of somewhat considerable 
dimensions. This, however, takes place on the same ground and with the 
same justification as that on which the dwellers on the Petchora consider 
Bolschoj-Kamen a very high mountain. But although no true icebergs 
are ever formed at the glaciers so common on Spitzbergen and also on 
North Novaya Zemlya, it however often happens that large blocks of ice 
fall down from them and give rise to a swell, which may be very dangerous 
to vessels in their neighbourhood. Thus a wave caused by tlie faUing of 
a piece of ice from a glacier on the 23rd (13th) of June, 1619, broke the 
masts of a vessel anchored at Bell Sound on Spitzbergen, threw a cannon 
overboard, killed three men, and wounded many more (Purchas, iii., 
p. 734). Several similar adventures, if on a smaller scale, I couM relate 
from my own experience and that of the walrus-hunters. Care is taken 
on this account to avoid anchoring too near the perpendicular faces of 

3 It may, however, be doubted whether the v:hole of the Kara Sea is 
completely frozen over in winter. 


bad report and name of ice-liouse. Now we know that it is not 
so dangerous in this respect as it was formerly believed to be — 
that the ice of the Kara Sea melts away for the most part, and 
that during autumn this sea is quite available for navigation. 

In general our knowledge of the Kara Sea some decades 
back was not only incomplete, but also erroneous. It was be- 
licvefi that its animal life was exceedingly scanty, and that sdgoi 
were absolutely wanting ; no soundings had been taken else- 
where than close to the coast ; and much doubt was thrown, not 
without reason, on the correctness of the maps. Now all this is 
changed to a fjreat extent. The coast line, bordering^ on the 
sea, is settled on the maps ; the ice-conditions, currents and 
depth of water in different parts of the sea are ascertained, and 
we know that the old ideas of its poverty in animals and plants 
are quite erroneous. 

In respect to dej)t]i the Kara Sea is distinguished by a 
special regularity, and by the absence of sudden changes. 
Along the east coast of Novaya Zemlya and Vaygats Island 
there runs a channel, up to 500 metres in depth, filled 
with cold salt-water, which forms the haunt of a fauna 
rich not only in individuals, but also in a large number 
of remarkable and rare types, as Umbellula, Elpidia, Alecto, 
asterids of many kinds, &c. Towards the east the sea-bottom 
rises gradually and then forms a plain lying 30 to 90 metres 
below the surface of the sea, nearly as level as the surface of 
the superincumbent water. The bottom of the sea in the south 
and west parts of it consists of clay, in the regions of Beli 
Ostrov of sand, farther north of gravel. Shells of Crustacea and 
pebbles are here often surrounded by bog-ore formations, 
resembling the figures on page 186. These also occur over an 
extensive area north-east of Port Dickson in such quantity that 
they might be used for the manufacture of iron, if the region 
were less inaccessible. 

Even in the shallower parts of the Kara Sea the water at 
the bottom is nearly as salt as in the Atlantic Ocean, and all 
the year round cooled to a temperature of — 2° to — 2°-7. The 
surface-water, on the contrary, is very variable in its composition, 
sometimes at certain places almost drinkable, and in summer 
often strongly heated. The remarkable circumstance takes 
place here that the surface water in consequence of its limited 
salinity freezes to ice if it be exposed to the temperature which 
prevails in the salt stratum of water next the bottom, and that 
it forms a deadly poison for many of the decapoda, worms, 
mussels, Crustacea and asterids which crawl in myriads among 
the beds of clay or sand at the bottom. 

At many places the loose nature of the bottom does not 
permit the existence of any algse, but in the neighbourhood of 




Bell Ostrov, Joliannesen discovered ex- 
tensive banks covered witli "sea-grass" 
(algse), and from the east coast of Novaya 
Zemlya Dr. Kjellman in 1875 collected 
no small number of algae/ being thereby 
enabled to take exception to the old 
erroneous statements as to the nature of 
the marine flora. He has drawn up for 
this work a full account of the marine 
vegetation in the Kara Sea, which will 
be .found further on. 

I shall now return to the account of our 
passage across this sea. On this subject my 
journal contains the following notes : 

August 27id. Still glorious weather — ■ 
no ice. The Le7ia appears to wish to 





A. Polype stem entire, one-half the natural size. a 

B, Polype stem, upper part, one-and-a-half times the natural size. 

^ Already in 1771 one of Pallas' companions, the student Sujeff, found 
large algae in the Kara Sea (Pallas, Reise. St. Petersburg, 1771 — 1776, 
iii. p. 34). 






Magnified three times. 
A. Belly. B, Bnck. 


Half the naturalsize. 


get away from the other vessels, and does not observe the 
flag which was hoisted as the signal agreed upon beforehand 
that her Captain should come on board, or at least bring his 
little vessel within hail. The Fraser was therefore sent in 
pursuit, and succeeded in overtaking her towards night. 

August orcl. In the morning Captain Johannesen came on 
board the Vega. I gave him orders to take on board Dr. 
Alraquist and Lieutenants Hovgaard and Nordquist, and go 
with them to Beli Ostrov, wdiere they should have freedom for 
thirty-six hours to study the people, animals, and plants, as they 
pleased ; the Lena was then, if possible, to pass through the 
Sound between the island and Yalmal to Port Dickson, where 
the three other vessels should be found. Almquist, Nordquist, 
and Hovgaard were already quite in order for the excursion ; 
they went immediately on board the Lena, and were soon, 
thanks to the great power of the engine in proportion to the 
size of the vessel, far on their way. 

In the course of the day we met with very open and rotten 
ice, which would only have been of use to us by its moderating 
effect on the sea, if it had not been accompanied by the usual 
attendant of the border of the ice, a thick fog, which however 
sometimes lightened. Towards evening we came in sight of 
Beli Ostrov. This island, as seen from the sea, forms a quite 
level plain, which rises little above the surface of the water. 
The sea off the island is of an even depth, but so shallow, that 
at a distance of twenty to thirty kilometres from the shore there 
is only from seven to nine metres of water. According to a 
communication from Captain Schwanenberg, there is, however, 
a depth of three to four metres close to the north shore. Such 
a state of things, that is, a uniform depth, amounting near the 
shore to from four to ten metres, but afterwards increasing only 
gradually and remaining unchanged over very extensive areas, 
is very common in the Arctic regions, and is caused by the 
ice-mud-woi'k which goes on there nearly all the year round. 
Another remarkable effect of the action of the ice is that all the 
blocks of stone to be found in the sea next the beach ai e forced 
up on land. The beach itself is formed accordingly at many 
places, for instance at several points in Matotschkin Sound, of a 
nearly continuous stone rampart going to the sea level, while 
in front of it there is a quite even sea bottom without a 
fragment of stone. 

August 4th. In the morning a gentle heaving indirated that 
the sea was again free of ice, at least over a considerable space 
to windward. Yesterday the salinity of the water was already 
diminished and the amount of clay inrreased ; now the water 
after being , filtered is almost drinkable. It has assumed a 
yellowish-grey colour and is nearly opaque, so that tl e vessel 




appears to sail in clay mud. We evidently in the area of 
the Ob-Yenisej current. The ice we sailed through yesterday 
probably came from the Gulf of Obi, Yenisej or Pjiisina. Its 
surface was dirty, not clean and white like the surface of 
glacier-ice or the sea-ice that has never come in contact with 
land or with muddy river-water. Off the large rivers the ice, 
when the snow has melted, is generally covered with a yellow 
layer of clay. This clay evidently consists of mud, which had 
been washed down by the river-water and been afterwards 
thrown up by the swell on the snow-covered ice. The layer of 
snow acts as a filter and separates the mud from the water. 
The former, therefore, after the melting of the snow may form 
upon true sea-ice a layer of dirt, containing a large number of 
minute organisms which live only in fresh water. 


Showing the origin of Stone-ramparts at the beach. 

August 5fli. Still under sail in the Kara Sea, in which a 
few pieces of ice are floating about. The ice completely dis- 
appeared when we came north-west of Beli Ostrov. We were 
several times in the course of the day in only nine metres of 
water, which, however, in consequence of the evenness of the 
bottom, is not dangerous. Fog, a heavy sea, and an intermittent 
but pretty fresh breeze delayed our progress. 

August Gth. At three o'clock in the morning we bad land 
in sight. In the fog we had gone a little way up the Gulf 
of Yenisej, and so had to turn in order to reach our destination. 
Port Dickson. The mast -tops of the Express were seen pro- 
jecting over islands to the north, and both vessels soon anchored 
south of an island which was supposed to be Dickson's Island, 


but when the Fraser soon after joined us we learned that this 
was a mistake. The shore, which, seen from our first anchorage, 
appeared to be that of the mainland, belonged in fact to the 
pretty extensive island, off which the haven itself is situated. 

After an excursion on land, in the course of which a covey 
of partridges was seen, and Dr. Kjellman on the diorite rocks of 
the island made a pretty abundant collection of plants, belonging 
partly to species which he had not before met with in the 
Arctic regions, we again weighed anchor in order to remove to 
the proper harbour. 

Captain Palander went before in the steam launch in order to 
examine the yet unsurveyed fairway. On the way he fell in 
with and killed a bear, an exceedingly fat and large male. Like 
the bear Dr. Theel shot here in 1875, he had only mosses and 
lichens in his stomach, and as it is scarcely probable that the 
bear in this region can catch a great many seals in summer, it 
is to be supposed that his food consists principally of vegetable 
substances, with the addition perhaps of a reindeer or two 
when he can succeed in getting hold of them. In the year 1875 
we saw here an old male bear that appeared to pasture quite 
peaceably in company with some reindeer, probably with a view 
to get near enough to spring upon them. Bears must besides 
be very common in that part of the north coast of Siberia, for 
during the few days we now remained there, two more were 
shot, both of them very fat. 

The haven, which has now been surveyed by Lieutenant Bove, 
was discovered by me in 1875 and named Port Dickson. It is 
the best known haven on the whole north coast of Asia, and will 
certainly in the future be of great importance for the foreign 
commerce of Siberia. It is surrounded on all sides by rocky 
islands, and is thus completely sheltered. The anchorage is a 
good clay bottom. The haven may be entered both from the 
north and from the south-west ; but in sailing in, caution should 
be used, because some rocky shoals may be met with which are 
not shown on Lieutenant Bove's sketch chart, which was made 
in the greatest haste. The water probably varies con- 
siderably as to its salinity with the season of the year and 
with ebb and flood tides, but is never, even at the surface, com- 
pletely fresh. It can therefore be used in cooking only in case 
of the greatest necessity. But two streams on the mainland, 
one debouching north and the other south of the harbour, yield 
an abundant supply of good water, in case snow water cannot be 
obtained from any of the beds of snow which up to autumn are 
to be found at several places along the strand escarpments in 
the neighbourhood of the harbour. 

At our arrival six wild reindeer were seen pasturing on Dick- 
son's Island ; one of them was killed by Palander, the others were 


146 THE VOYAGE OF THE VEGA. [chap iv. 

stalked unsuccessfully. Some bears, as has already been stated, 
were also seen, and everywhere among the heaps of stones there 
were numerous remains of the lemming and the fox. With 
these exceptions there were few of the higher animals. Of 
birds we thus saw only snow-buntings, which bred among the 
stone heaps both on the mainland and on the islands, a 
covey of ptarmigan, a large number of birds, principally 
species of Tringa and Phalaropus, but not further deter- 
mined, eiders, black guillemots and burgomasters in limited 
numbers, and long-tailed ducks and loons in somewhat greater 
abundance. There are no " down islands," and as there are no 
precipitous shore cliffs neither are there any looneries. A 
shoal of fish was seen in Lena Sound, and fish are probably 
exceedingly abundant. Seals and white whales also perhaps 
occur here at certain seasons of the year in no small numbers. 
It was doubtless with a view to hunt these animals that a 
hut was occupied, the remains of which are visible on one of the 
small rocky islands at the north entrance into the harbour. The 
ruin, if we may apply the term to a wooden hut which has 
fallen in jiieces, showed that the building had consisted of a 
room with a firej)lace and a storehouse situated in front, and 
that it was only intended as a summer dwelling for the hunters 
and fishers who came hither during the hunting season from the 
now deserted simovies ^ lying farther south. 

I am convinced that the day will come when great warehouses 
and many dwellings inhabited all the year round will be found at 
Port Dickson. Now the region is entirely uninhabited as far 
as Goltschicha, although, as the map reproduced here shows, 
numerous dwelling-houses were to be found built along the river 
bank and sea-shore beyond the mouth of the Yenisej and as far 
as to the Pjasina. They have long since been abandoned, in the 
first place in conj^equence of the hunting falling off, but probably 
also because even here, far away on the north coast of Siberia, 
the old simple and unpretentious habits have given way to 
new wants which were difficult to satisfy at the time when 
no steamers carried on traffic on the river Yenisej. Thus, for 
instance, the difficulty of procuring meal some decades back, 
accordingly before the commencement of steam communication 
on the Yenisej, led to the abandonment of a simovie situated on 
the eastern bank of the river in latitude 72° 25' north. 

The simovies at the mouth of the Yenisej formed in their 
time the most northerly fixed dwelling-places of the European 
races.- Situated as they were at the foot of the cold tundra, 

1 Dwellings intended both for winter and summer habitation. 

2 The most northerly fixed dwelling-place, which is at present inhabited 
by Europeans, is the Danish commercial post Tasiusak, in north-western 
Greenland, situated in 73° 24' N.L. How little is known, even in Russia, 




PETROrOLI 1745. 








exposed to contiuual snowstorms in winter and to close fogs 
during the greater part of summer, which here is extremely 
short, it seems as if they could not offer their inhabitants 
many opportunities for enjoyment, and the reason why this tract 
was chosen for a residence, especially in a country so rich in 
fertile soil as Siberia, appears to be difficult to find. The 
remains of an old simovie (Krestovskoj). which I saw in 1875 
while travelling up the river along with Dr. Lundstrom and Dr. 
Stuxberg, however, produced the impression that a true home 
life had once been led there. Three houses with turf-covered 


After a drawing by A. Stuxberg. 

roofs then still remained in such a state that one could form an 
idea of their former arrangement and of the life which had 
been carried on in them. Each cabin contained a whole laby- 
rinth of very small rooms ; dwelling-rooms with sleeping places 
fixed to the walls, bake-rooms with immense fireplaces, bathing 
houses with furnaces for vapour-baths, storehouses for train-oil 
with laro^e train-drenched blubber troughs hollowed out of 


ni tlie former dwelliners at the mouth of tlie Yenisej may be seen from 
Xeueste Nachrichten iiber die nordlichsfe Gegend von Slbirien zirischen den 
Flussen Pjiissida und Chatanga in Fragen und Antirorten abgefaast. Mit 
Einleitung und Anmerhungen vom Ilerausgeber (K. E. v. Baer und Gr. v. 
Helmersen, Be'itrage. zur Kenntniss des i-ussischen Belches, vol. iv. p. 26i*. 
St. Petersburg, 1841). 


. enormous tree-stems, blubber tanks with remains of the white 
whale, &c., all witnessing that the place had had a flourishing 
period, when prosperity was found there, when the home was 
regarded with loyalty, and formed in all its loneliness the central 
point of a life richer perhaps in peace and well-being than one 
is inclined beforehand to suppose. 

In 1875 a "prikaschik" (foreman), and three Russian 
labourers lived all the year round at Goltschicha. Sverevo was 
inhabited by one man and Priluschnoj by an old man and his 
son. All were poor ; they dwelt in small turf-covered cabins, 
consisting of a lobby and a dirty room, smoked and sooty, with 
a large fireplace, wooden benches along the walls, and a sleeping 
place fixed to the wall, high above the floor. Of household 
furniture only the implements of fishing and the chase were 
numerously represented. There were in addition pots and pans, 
and occasionally a tea-urn. The houses were all situated near 
the river-bank, so high up that they could not be reached by 
the spring inundations. A disorderly midden was always to be 
found in the near neighbourhood, with a number of draught 
dogs wandering about on it seeking something to eat. Only 
one of the Russian settlers here was married, and we were 
informed that there was no great supply of the material for 
Russian housewives for the inhabitants of these regions. At 
least the Cossack Feodor, who in 1875 and 1876 made several 
unsuccessful attempts to serve me as pilot, and who himself 
was a bachelor already grown old and wrinkled, complained 
that the fair or weaker sex was poorly represented among the 
Russians. He often talked of the advantages of mixed 
marriages, being of opinion, under the inspiration of memory 
or hope, I know not which, that a Dolgan woman was the 
most eligible i^arti for a man disposed to marry in that part of 
the world. 

A little fiirther south, but still far north of the limit of trees, 
there are, however, very well-to-do peasants, who inhabit large 
simovies, consisting of a great number of houses and rooms, in 
which a certain luxury prevails, where one walks on floor- 
coverings of skins, where the windows are whole, the sacred 
pictures covered with plates of gold and silver, and the walls 
provided with mirrors and covered with finely coloured copper- 
plate portraits of Russian Czars and generals. This prosperit}"" 
is won by traffic with the natives, who wander about as nomads 
on the tundra with their reindeer herds. 

The cliffs around Port Dickson consist of diorite, hard and 
difficult to break in pieces, but weathering readily. The rocky 
hills are therefore so generally split up that they form enormous 
stone mounds. They were covered with a great abundance of 




lichens, and the plains between them yielded to Dr. Kjellman 
the following phanerogamous plants : 

Cineraria fri,2:ida Richards. 

Erigeron uniflorus L. 

Saussurea alpina DC. 

Taraxacum phymatocarpuin J. Vahl. 

Gymnandra Stelleri Ch. & ScHL. 

Pedicularis sudetica Willd. 

„ hirsuta L. 

„ Oederi Vahl. 

Eritrichium villosum BuNGE. 
Myosotis silvatica Hoffji. 
Astragalus alpiuus L. 
Oxytropis campestris (Tj.) DC. 
Dryas octopetala L. 
Sieversia glacialis R. Br. 
Potentilla emarginata PuRSH. 
Saxifraga- oppositifoHa L. 

,, bronchialis L. 

,, Hirculus L. 

,, stellaris L. 

,, uivalis L. 

,, liieraciif oli :i"\ Kit. 

,, punctata L. 

,, cernua L- 

,, rivnlaris L. 

„ cfespitosa L. 
Clir\sosplenium alternifulium L. 
Rhodiola rosea L. 
Parrya macrocarpa R. Br. 
Cardamine pratensis L. 

„ bellidifolia L. 

Eutreina Edwardsii R. Br. 
Cocblearia fenestrata R. Br. 
Draba alpina L. 

„ oblongata (R. Br.) DC. 
„ corymbosa R. Br. 
,, Wablenbergii Hn. 
,, altaica (Ledeb.) Buxge. 
Papaver nudicaule L. 
Ranunculus pygmjeus Wg. 

Ranunculus byperboreus RoTTB. 

„ lapponicus L. 

„ nivalis L. 

., snlpbnreus Sol. 

,, affinis R. Br. 

Caltlia palustris L. 
Wablbergella apetala (L.) Fr. 
Stellaria Edwardsii K. Br. 
Cerastium alpinum L. 
Alsine arctica Fexzl. 
„ macrocarpa Fkxzl. 
„ rubella Wg. 
Sagina nivalis Fr. 
Oxyria digyna (L.) Hill. 
Rumex arcticus Trautv. 
Polygonum viviparuni L. 

„ Bistorta L. 

Salix polaris Wg. 
Festuca rubra L. 
Poa cenisea All. 
, „ arctica R. Br. 
Glyceria angustata R. Br. 
Catabrosa algida (Sol.) Fr. 
„ concinna Th. Fk. 
Colpodium latifolium R. Br. 
Dupontia Fisheri R. Br. 
Koeleria hirsuta Gaud. 
Aira cffispitosa L. 
Alopecurus alpinus Sm. 
Erioi^borum angustifolium RoTH. 

„ vaginatum L. 

„ Scbeucbzeri Hoppe. 

Carex rigida Good. 
,, aquatilis Wg. 
Juncus biglumis L. 
Luzula byperborea R. Br. 

,, arctica Bl. 
Lloydia serotina (L.) Reich enb. 

Our botanists thus made on land a not inconsiderable 
collection, considering the northerly jDosition of the region. On 
the other hand no large algjB were met with in the sea, nor was 
it to be expected that there would, for the samples of water 
taken up with Ekmaii's instrument showed that the salinity at 
the bottom was as slight as at the surface, viz. only 3 per 
cent. The temperature of the water was also at the time of 
our visit about the same at the bottom as at the surface, viz. 
+ 9° to -f 10°. In spring, when the snow melts, the water 
here is probably quite fresh, in winter again cold, and as 


salt as at the bottom of the Kara Sea. Uiider so variable 
hydrographical conditions we might have expected an ex- 
ceedingly scanty marine fauna, but this was by no means the 
case. For the dredgings in the harbour gave Dr. Stuxberg a 
not inconsiderable yield, consisting of the same types as those 
which are found in the salt water at the bottom of the Kara Sea. 


From Port Dickson. 

This circumstance appears to show that certain evertebrate 
types can endure a much greater variation in the temperature 
and salinity of the water than the algae, and that there is a 
number of species which, though as a rule they live in the 
strongly cooled layer of salt water at the bottom of the 
Kara Sea, can bear without injury a considerable diminution in 
the salinity of the water and an increase of temperature of 
about 12". 




For the science of our time, which so often places the origin 
of a northern form in the south, and vice versa, as the foundation 
of very wide theoretical conclusions, a knowledge of the types 
which can live by turns in nearly fresh water of a temperature 
of + 10°, and in water cooled to — 2°*7 and of nearly the same 
salinity as that of the Mediterranean, must have a certain 
interest The most remarkable were, according to Dr. Stuxberg, 
the following: a species of Mysis, Diasti/lis Bathkei Kr., 
Idothea entomon Lin., Idothea Sahinei Kr., two species of 
Lysianassida, Pontoporeia setosa, Stbrg., Halimedon hrevicalcar 
GoJis, an Annelid, a Molgula, Yoldia intermedia M. Sars, 
Yoldia (?) ardica Gray, and a Solecurtus. 


A. Yoldia arctica Gray. One and two-thirds of natural size. b. Dlastylis Rathkei Kr. 

Magnified three times. 

Driftwood in the form both of small branches and pieces of 
roots, and of whole trees with adhering portions of branches 
and roots, occurs in such quantities at the bottom of two well- 
protected coves at Port Dickson, that the seafarer may without 
difficulty provide himself with the necessary stock of fuel. The 
great mass of the driftwood which the river bears along, 
however, does not remain on its own banks, but floats 
out to sea to drift about with the marine currents until 
the wood has absorbed so much water that it sinks, or 
until it is thrown up on the shores of Novaya Zemlya, the 


north coast of Asia, Spitzbergen or perhaps Greenland. 
Another portion of the wood sinks, before it reaches the sea, 
often in such a way that the stems stand upright in the river 
bottom, with one end, so to say, rooted in the sand. They may 
thus be inconvenient for tlie navigation, at least at the shallower 
places of the river. A bay immediately off Port Dickson 
was almost barred by a natural palisade-work of driftwood 

August 7fh. The Vega coaled from the Exjiress. In the 
evening the Lena arrived, 36 hours after the Vega had anchored, 
that is to say, precisely at the aj^pointed time. Concerning this 
excursion Dr. Almquist rej^orts : 

" On the 2nd Aug-ust we — Hovgaard, Nordquist and I — went 
on board the Lena to make an excursion to Beli Ostrov. We 
were to land on the south-western headland and there undertake 
botanical and zoological researches. Thereafter we were to 
direct some attention to the opposite shore of Yalmal and visit 
the Samoyeds living there. 

" We left the Vega at eleven o'clock forenoon. In the course 
of the day we saw here and there in the south scattered ice, and 
at half-past ten at night we ran into a large belt, about 800 
metres broad, of scattered ice, which lay stretched out from N.E. 
to S.W. It was passed without difficulty. In the course of the 
night we now and then fell in with a little scattered ice, and in 
the morning ^vith a belt of masses of ice of considerable dimen- 
sions ; sounding constantly in 10 to 3^ metres water we succeeded, 
notwithstanding the foof and rain, in finding the straits between 
Beli Ostrov and the mainland, and on the 3rd August at eleven 
o'clock forenoon we anchored a little to the east of the southern 
extremity of the island. The Lena lay in 3i metres water, 
about an English mile out to sea. The water was shallow for 
so great a distance from. the beach that we had to leave our 
boat about 300 metres out to sea and wade to land. 

" Beli Ostrov consists entirely of fine sand, and only on that 
part of the beach which is washed by the sea-water did we see 
any stones as large as walnuts ; higher up we did not find a 
piece of stone even of the size of the nail. The highest point 
of the island appears to be scarcely three metres above the 
surface of the sea. That part of the island over which the sea 
water washes, that is, the beach and the deep bays which indent 
the land here and there, shows the fine sand bare, without trace 
of vegetation. Where the ground rises a little, it becomes 
covered with a black and white variegated covering of mosses 
and lichens ; scattered among which at long intervals are small 
tufts of grass. First somewhat higher up, and properly only round 
the marshy margins of the numerous small fresh-water lakes and 


in hollows and bogs, is tlie ground slightly green. The higher 
plants are represented by only 17 species, all small and stunted/ 
most of them rising only some few lines above the sand. Very 
few plants reached a height of 15 centimetres. No kind of 
willow was found, nor any flower seen of any other colour thn.n 
green or white. 

" The lichen-flora too was scanty. No species showed any 
great luxuriance, and seldom did the black and white lichen- 
crust produce any ' apothecium.' The lichen-vegetation was 
most abundant on the driftwood of the beach and on the tufts 
in the marshes. The larger lichens, as the reindeer and Iceland 
lichens, occurred very sparingly. About 80 species were found. 
The land evertebrates were so sparingly rejaresented, that only 
three diptera, one species of hymenoptera, and some insect larva; 
and spiders could be collected. Only podurse were found in 
great abundance ; they completely covered the whole ground at 
the beach. 

" Several herds of reindeer were seeu, but we did not succeed 
in getting within range of them. A little fish of the Cottus 
family was caught by Nordquist in a ditch which was in connec- 
tion with the sea. Driftwood still fresh was found in great 
abundance, and farther up on land here and there lay a more 
rotten stem. 

" Rain and fog rendered impossible any determination of 
position. During night we went across the sound and anchored 
about an English mile and a half from the shore of Yalmal, 
right opposite some Samoyed tents which we discovered a little 
inland. In the same unfavourable weather as that of the day 
before we attempted to land there, but found the water too 
shallow. First pretty far to the east we succeeded in reaching 
the beach at a place where the land rose out of the sea with a 
steep bank about nine metres high. Above the bank, which 
consisted of loose clay, we found a plain with the appearance of 
a rich watered tundra, full of marshes and streams, and therefore 
presenting a very green appearance. In order to meet with the 
Samoyeds we now went westwards, passing several rivulets which 

^ The collections made here were after our return determined by 
Kjellman, who has communicated the following list : 

Saxifraga stellaris L. Aira cjespitosa L. 

,, cernua L. Hierochloa pauciflora R. Br. 

,, rivularis L. Eriophorum russeolum Fr. 

Cochlearia fenestrata R. Br. „ Scheuchzeri HOPPE. 

Stellaria humifusa Rottb, Carex salina Wg. 

Sagina nivalis Fr. ,, ursina Desv. 
Arctophila pendulina (L.EST.) Ands. Luzula hyperborea R. Br. 

Catabrosa algida (Sol.) Fr. „ arclica Bl. 
Dupontia Fisheri R. Br. 

IV.] YALMAL. 155 

cut deejjly into the laud auJ had high bauks, until after half an 
hour's walking we came to a broad but not very deep river, which 
it was impgssible to ford. We therefore returned to our boat with 
the view of seeking a landing-place on the other side of the river ; 
but as the Lena's distance from land was considerable and the 
breeze was freshening, the captain considered that the time at 
our disposal did not permit us to undertake so long an excursion. 

" So far as we may jvidge from our hasty visit, the vegetation 
on this part of Yalmal struck us as being remarkably abundant. 
The high banks especially were richly covered by phanerogamous 
plants and lichens, and would have deserved a closer examination. 
Our cursory observations of the plants here may however be 
interesting for comparison with the flora of Beli Ostrov ; we 
collected and noted the higher plants^ and about 40 species of 
lichens. Nordquist found that the fauna resembled that of the 
neighbouring island, and collected besides two species of 

" After lying 2G hours in the sound we weighed anchor again 
and went westwards, following a channel with ten to sixteen 
metres water. We could not find its course farther to the east, 
and were compelled, although we were near the eastern extremity 
of Beli Ostrov, to turn in order to pass out through the western 
entrance of the sound. We saw a quantity of stranded ice on 
the north coast of the island, which, seen from the sea, did not 
present any dissimilarity to the part which we had visited. On 
the 7th August we arrived at Port Dickson." 

From Lieutenant Hovgaard's report on this excursion, a map 
is given here of Beli Ostrov and the neighbouring coast of 
Yalmal, in which I have named the sound between the island 
and the mainland after Malygin, one of the gallant Russian 
seamen who first sailed through it nearly a century and a 
half ago. 

Yalmal has been visited by Europeans so seldom, and their 
observations are scattered in printed papers so inaccessible, that 
it may perhaps not be out of place here to collect the most 

1 These according to Dr. Kjellman's determination are : 

Saxifraga cernua L. Arctophila pendulina (L/EST.) And. 

„ cEespitosa L. Catabrosa algida (Sol.) Fr. 

Cochlearia fenestrata R. Bu. „ conciniia Tu. Fk. 

Draba alpina L. Diipontia Fisheri K. Bit. 

Ranunculus sulphureus SoL. Calamagrostis lapponica L. 

,, nivalis L. Carex salina Wg. 

„ pygmreus Wg. „ rigid a Good. 

„ hipponicus L. Eriophoruni russeolum Fr. 

„ borealis Trautv. Luzula arcuata Sm. f. hyperborea 

Stellaria Edwardsii R. Br. K. Br. 

Salix glauca L. Lloydia serotina (L.) Reichenb. 


important facts which are known regarding this peninsula, along 
with the necessary bibliographical references. 

First as to its name, it is sometimes also written " Yelmert 
Land," ^ but this is quite incorrect, 

" Yalmal " is of Samoyed origin, and has, according to a 
private communication from the well-known philologist Dr. E. 
D. EuROP^us, the distinctive meaning " land's-end." Yelmert 
again was a boatswain with the Dutch whale-fisher Vlamingh, 
who in 1664 sailed round the northern extremity of Novaya 
Zemlya to Barents' winter haven, and thence farther to the 
south-east. Vlamingh himself at his turning-point saw no 
land, though all signs showed that land ought to be found in 
the neighbourhood ; but several of the crew thought they saw 
land, and the report of this to a Dutch mapmaker, DicK 
Rembrantsz. van Nierop, led to the introduction of the supposed 
land into a great many maps, commonly as a large island in 
the Kara Sea. This island was named Yelmert Land. The 
similarity between the names Yelmert Land and Yalmal, and 
the doubt as to the existence of the Yelmert Island first shown 
on the maps, have led to the transfer of the name Yelmert 
Land to the peninsula which separates the Gulf of Obi from the 
Kara Sea. It is to be remarked, however, that the name 
Yalmal is not found in the older accounts of voyages from the 
European waters to the Obi. The first time I met with it 
was in the narrative of Skuratov's journey in 1737, as the 
designation of the most north-easterly promontory of the 
peninsula which now bears that name. 

Yalmal's grassy plains offer the Samoyeds during summer 
reindeer pastures whiclj are highly valued, and the land is said 
to have a very numerous population in' comparison with other 
regions along the shores of the Polar Sea, the greater portion, 
however, drawing southward towards winter with their large 
herds of reindeer. But the land is, notwithstanding this, among 
the most imperfectly known parts of the great Russian empire. 
Some information regarding it we may obtain from sketches of 
the following journeys : 

Selifontov, 1737. In the months of July and August the 
surveyor Selifontov travelled in a reindeer sledge along the 
coast of the Gulf of Obi as far as to Beli Ostrov. About this 
journey unfortunately nothing else has been published than is 
to be found in LlTKE, Viermaligc Iicise, &c., Berlin, 1835, p. 66, 
and Wrangel, Sibirischc Beise, Berlin, 1839, p. 37. 

^ On the maps in Linschoten's work already quoted, printed in 1601, 
and in Blavii Atlas Major (1665, t. i. pp. 24, 25), this land is called "Nieu 
West Vrieslant" and "West Frisia Nova," names which indeed have 
priority in jjr'int, but yet cannot obtain a preference over the inhabitants' 
own beautiful name. 



SUJEFF, in 1771, travelled under the direction of Pallas over 
the southern part of Yalmal from Obdorsk to the Kara Sea, and 
gives an instructive account of observations made during his 
journey in Pallas, Reise ditrch verschiedene Provinzen des 
russischen Bciches, St. Petersburg, 1771 — 76, III. pp. 14 — 35. 

Krusexstern, 1862. During his second voyage in the Kara 
Sea, which ended with the abandonment of the ship Yermak 
on the coast of Yalmal in about 69° 5-i' N. L., Krusenstern 
junior escaped with his crew to the shore, reaching it in 
a completely destitute condition. He had lost all, and would 
certainly have perished if he had not near the landing-place 
fallen in with a rich Samoyed, the owner of two thousand 
reindeer, who received the shipwrecked men in a very friendly 
way and conveyed them with his reindeer to Obdorsk, distant 
in a straight line 500, but, according to the Samoyed's reckoning, 
1,000 versts. In the sketch of Krusenstern's travels, to which 
I have had access, there is unfortunately no information regard- 
ing the tribe with which he came in contact durino- this 
remarkable journey.^ 

Waluburg-Zeil and Finsch, 1876. A very full and exceed- 
ingly interesting description of the natural conditions in the 
southernmost part of the peninsula is to be found in the 
accounts of Count Waldburg-Zeil and Dr. Finsch's journey 
in the year 1876.^ 

Schwaxexberg, 1877. Captain Schwanenberg landed on the 
north part of Beli Ostrov during the remarkable voyage which 
he made in that year from the Yenisej to St. Petersburg. !N"o 
traces of men, but some of reindeer and bears, were visible. 
The sea was sufficiently deep close to the shore for vessels of 
light draught, according to a private communication which I 
have received from Captain Schwanenberg. 

The Swedish Expedition, 1875. During this voyage we 
landed about the middle of the west coast of Yalmal. In order 
to give an idea of the nature of the country, I make the follow- 
ing extract from my narrative of the voyage,^ which has had but 
a limited circulation : 

" In the afternoon of the 8th August I landed, along with 

1 Paul von Krusenstern, Skizzen cms seinem Seemannslehen. Hirscliberg 
in Silesia. Farther on I intend to give a more detailed account of von 
Krusenstern's two voyages in the Kara Sea. 

2 Deutsche Geogr. Blatter von Lindemann Namens d. Geogr. Gesellsch., 
Bremen. I. 1877, II. 1878. 0. Finsch, Reise nach West-Sihirien im Jahre 
1876. Berlin, 1879. A bibliographical list has been drawn up by Count 
von Waldburg-Zeil under the title, Litteratur-Nachweis fur das Gebiet des 
unteren Ob. 

'^ Nordenskiold, Redogorelse for en expedition till mynningen af Jeinsej ocJi 
Sibirien ar 1875, Bih. till Kongl. Vet.-Ak. Handl, vol. iv., No. 1, p. 




Lundstrom and Stuxberg, on a headland projecting a little from 
Yalmal, on the north side of the mouth of a pretty large river. 
The landing place was situated in lat. 72" 18', long. 08" 42'. The 
land was bounded here by a low beach, from which at a distance 
of one hundred paces a steep bank rose to a height of from six 
to thirty metres. Beyond this bank there is an extensive, 
slightly undulating plain, covered with a vegetation which indeed 
was exceedingly monotonous, but much more luxuriant than 
that of Vaygats Island or Novaya Zemlya. The uniformity of 
the vegetation is perhaps caused, in a considerable degree, by 


After a drawing by A. N. Lundstrom. 

the uniform nature of the terrain. There is no solid rock here. 
The ground everywhere consists of sand and sandy clay, in which 
I could not find a stone so large as a bullet or even as a pea, 
though I searched for a distance of several kilometres along the 
strand-bank. Nor did the dredge bring up any stones from the 
sea-bottom off the coast, a circumstance which, among other 
things, is remarkable, because it appears to shoAv that the strand- 
ice from the Obi and Yenisej does not drift down to and melt 
in this part of the Kara Sea. Nor do the sand beds contain any 
sub-fossil shells, as is the case with the sand beds of the Yenisej 


tundra. ' Noah's wood ' also appears to be absent here. To 
judge from our observations at this place, the peninsula between 
the Gulf of Obi and the Kara Sea thus differs very essentially 
from the tundra lying east of the Yenisej. 

" We saw no inhabitants, but everywhere along the beach 
numerous traces of men — some of them barefoot — of reindeer, 
dogs and Sainoyed sleighs, were visible. On the top of the 
strand-bank was found a^place of sacrifice, consisting of fjrty- 
five bears' skulls of various ages placed in a heap, a large 
number of reindeer skulls, the lower jaw of a walrus, &c. From 
most of the bears' skulls the canine teeth were broken out, and 
the lower jaw was frequently entirely wanting. Some of the 
bones were overgrown with moss and lay sunk in the earth ; 
others had, as the adhering flesh showed, been placed there during 
the present year. In the middle of the heap of bones stood four 
erect pieces of wood. Two consisted of sticks a metre in length 
with notches cut in them, serving to bear up the reindeer and 
bears' skulls, which were partly placed on the points of the 
sticks or hung up by means of the notches, or spitted on the sticks 
by four-cornered holes cut in the skulls. The two others, which 
clearly were the proper idols of this place of sacrifice, consisted 
of driftwood roots, on which some carvings had been made to 
distinguish the eyes, mouth, and nose. The parts of the pieces 
of wood, intended to represent the eyes and mouth, had recently 
been besmeared with blood, and there still lay at the heap of 
bones the entrails of a newly-killed reindeer. Close beside were 
found the remains of a fireplace, and of a midden, consisting of 
reindeer bones of various kinds and the lower jaws of bears. 

" As the sandy slopes of the beach offered no suitable 
breeding-place for looms, black guillemots, or other sea-fowl, 
and there were no islands along the coast which could serve as 
breeding-places for eiders and other species of geese which 
breed in colonies, the abundant bird-life of the Polar Sea was 
wanting here. At the mouth of the river, however, large 
flocks of eiders and long-tailed ducks flew about, and on the 
sandy banks along the shore, flocks of Calidris arenaria and 
a Tringa or two ran about restlessly seeking their food. The 
solitude of the tundra was broken only by a couple of larks 
and a pair of falcons (Falco percgrinvs) with young. Traces 
of reindeer were also seen, and two fox-traps set on the strand- 
bank showed that foxes occur in these regions in sufficient 
numbers to be the object of capture. 

" Later in the afternoon, when some solar altitudes had been 
taken, in order to determine the geographical position of the 
place, we rowed back to our vessel and sailed on, keeping at 
some distance from the coast, and at one place passing between 
the shore and a long series of blocks of ground-ice, which had 


stranded along the coast in a depth of nine to sixteen metres. 
During night we passed a place where five Samoyed tents were 
pitched, in whose neighbourhood a large number of reindeer 
pastured. The land was now quite low, and the sea had become 
considerably shallower. The course was therefore shaped for the 
N.W., in which direction deeper water was soon met with. 
Notwithstanding the slight salinity and high temperature 
(4. 7°'7) of the surface water a Clio borealis and a large number 
of Copepoda were taken at the surface." 

The excursion now described and Almquist's and Hovgaard's 
landing in 1878 were, as far as I am aware, the only occasions 
on which naturiilists have visited the northern part of that 
peninsula which sejiarates the Kara Sea from the Obi. The 
Norwegian hunters also visit the place seldom, the main reasons 
being the inaccessibility of the shallow east coast, and the want 
of harbours. They now, however, land occasionally to take in 
water, and perhaps to barter the tobacco they have saved from 
their rations, knives they have no use for, and old-fashioned 
guns, gunpowder, lead, &c., for the products of the Samoyeds' 
reindeer husbandry, hunting and fishing. At first the natives 
fled when they saw the Norwegians coming, and, when they 
could not make their escape, they saluted them with great 
humility, falling on their knees and bending their heads to the 
earth, and were unAvillmg to enter into any traffic with them 
or to show them their goods. But since the Samoyeds observed 
that the Norwegians never did them any harm, the mistrust 
and excessive humility have completely disappeared. Now a 
visit of Europeans is very agreeable to them, partly for the 
opportunity which it offers of obtaining by barter certain 
articles of necessity, luxury, or show, partly perhaps also for 
the interruption thereby caused in the monotony of the tundra 
life. When the walrus-hunters row or sail along that open 
coast, it often happens that natives run backwards and forwards 
on the shore, and by signs eagerly invite the foreigners to land ; 
if they do so, and there are any wealthy Samoyeds in the 
neighbourhood, there immediately begins a grand entertainment, 
according to the customs of the people, with more than one 
trait reminding us of the sketches from the traditionary periods 
of the civilised nations. 

What I have stated here is about all that we know of Yalmal, 
and we see from this that a very promising, yet untouched field 
for researches in ethnography and natural history here lies 
before future travellers to the Yenisej. 

What sort of winter is there at the mouth of the Yenisej ? 
We have for the present no information on this point, as no scien- 
tific man has wintered there. But on the other hand we have a 




very exciting narrative of the wintering of the Fin, Nummelin, 
at the Briochov Islands in the Yenisej in lat. 70" 48' north. 

I visited the place on the 27th August 1875. It consisted 
of a fishing post, occupied only in summer, and at that season of 
the year very attractive, surrounded as it is by luxuriant 
vegetation of grass and bushes. The houses were situated on 
a sound running between the Briochov Islands, which form the 
northernmost group of the labyrinth of islands which occupy 
the channel of the Yenisej between 69|° and 71° N. L. At the 


After a sketch by the Author. 

time of our visit the fishing was over for the season and the 
place deserted. But two small houses and a number of earth- 
huts (jorclgammor), all in good repair, stood on the river bank 
and gave evidence, along with a number of large boats drawn 
up on land, and wooden vessels intended for salting fish, of the 
industry which had been carried on there earlier in the summer. 
It was at this place that Nummelin passed one of the severest 
winters that Arctic literature has to record.^ 

1 I give the particulars of this wintering partly after communications 
made to me in conversation by Nummelin, partly after Goteborgs Handeh- 
och Sjofartstifhring for the 20th and 21st November, 1877. This first and, 
as far as I know, only detailed narrative of the voyage in question, was 
dictated to the editor of that journal, reference heing made to the log by 



In 1876 M. Sidoroff, well known for the lively interest which 
he takes in navigation in the Siberian waters, had a ship Sevemoe 
Sianie (the Aurora) built and fitted out at Yeniseisk, in order to 
carry goods from the Yenisej to Europe. The vessel was placed 
under the command of a Russian sea-captain, Schwanenberg. 
Under him Nummelin served as mate, and the vessel had a 
crew of eighteen men, most of whom had been exiled to Siberia for 
crime. In consequence of various mishaps the vessel could not 
get farther the first year than to the neighbourhood of the 
mouth of the Yenisej, where it was left in winter quarters 
at the place which has been named above, Nummelin and 
four exiles remained on board, while Schwanenberg and the 
rest of the crew returned to Yeniseisk on the 28th September, 
Frost had already commenced. During the two following weeks 
the temperature kept in the neighbourhood of the freezing 
point ; clear weather alternating with snow and rain. 

On the 5th of October the crew withdrew to their winter 
quarters, having previously collected driftwood and placed it 
in heaps in order that they might easily find it under the snow. 

On the 16th October the thermometer at eight o'clock in the 
morning showed —4*5° and afterwards sank lower every day, until 
after the 21st October the mercury for some days was constantly 
under —10°, On the 26th October the temperature was —18°, 
but in the beginning of November it rose again to — 2°. On the 
6th November it sank again to — 17°, but rose on the 11th to 
— 3'5.° On the 14th November the thermometer showed -23'5°, 
on the 21st — 29"5°, Next day in the morning it stood at — 32°, 
and in the evening at— 37°, but these figures were arrived at 
hy guess, the instrument not indicating so low temperatures. 
This temperature of —30° to —32°, varying with frozen 
mercury, continued till the end of November, when it rose again 
to — 11*5°. At Christmas there was again a temperature of— 31° 
and the six following days the mercury was frozen, with which 
the new year came in. The temperature then rose again to — 20°, 
but soon sank so that from the 16th January the mercury was 
frozen for five days. On the 22nd January the reading was — 9°. 
On the 26th the mercury froze again, and on the 29th the temper- 
ature was — 6°. During the month of February the temperature 
never rose above — 24°; the mercury was frozen on the 20th, 25th, 
26th, and 28th. This was the case on the 1st, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 
14th, 16th, and 18th March; on the 22nd March the reading 
was -7°, on the 30th — 29°. April began with -31°, but the 
temperature afterwards rose, so that on the 16th it reached - 11° 
and varied between — 21° and — 6° (the 25th). On the 2nd May the 
reading in the morning and evening was — 12°, at mid-day — 2° to 

Schwanenberg and Nummelin. Schwanenberg had come to Gothenburg 
some days before with his Yeniseisk-built vessel. 


- 5°. On the 8th May it was + 0, on the l7th - 10-5°, on the 
31st + 0'5°. June began with -|- 1"5°. On the 8th the reading 
at mid-day was -f 11°, on the morning and evening of the same 
day + 2° to + 8°. During the remainder of June and the month 
of July the temperature varied between + 2° and + 21°. 

It was in such circumstances that Nummelin and his four 
companions hved in the ill-provided house of j^lanks on the 
Little Briochov Island. They removed to it, as has been already 
said, on the 5th October ; on the 20th the ice was so hard frozen 
that they could walk upon it. On the 26th snowstorms 
commenced, so that it was impossible to go out of the house. 

The sun was visible for the last time on the 21st November, 
and it reappeared on the 19th January. On the 15th JNIay the 
sun no longer set. The temperature was then under the 
freezing point of mercury. That the upper edge of the sun 
should be visible on the 19th January we must assume a hori- 
zontal refraction of nearly 1°. The islands on the Yenisej are 
so low that there was probably a pretty open horizon towards 
the south. 

Soon after Christmas scurvy began to show itself. Numme- 
lin's companions were condemned and punished criminals, in 
whom there was to be expected neither physical nor moral 
power of resistance to this disease. They all died, three of 
scurvy, and one in the attempt to cross from the Briochov 
Islands to a simovie at Tolstoinos. In their stead Nummelin 
succeeded in procuring two men from Tolstoinos, and later on 
one from Goltschicha, On the 11th May a relief party arrived 
from the south. It consisted of three men under the mate 
Meyenwaldt, whom Sidoroff had sent to help to save the vessel. 
They had first to shovel away the snow which weighed it down. 
The snow lay nearly six metres deep on the river ice, which 
was three metres thick. When they at last had got the vessel 
nearly dug out, it was buried again by a new snowstorm. 

In the middle of June the ice began to move, and the river 
water rose so high that Nummelin, Meyenwaldt, and four men, 
along with two dogs, were compelled to betake themselves to 
the roof of the hut, where they had laid in a small stock of 
provisions and fuel. Here they passed six days in constant 
peril of their lives. 

The river had now risen five metres ; the roof of the hut rose 
but a quarter of a metre above the surface of the swollen river, 
and was every instant in danger of being carried away by a 
floating piece of ice. In such a case a small boat tied to the 
roof was their only means of escape. 

The whole landscape was overflowed. The other houses and 
huts were carried away by the water and the drifting ice, which 
also constantly threatened the only remaining building. The 

M 2 

1(54 THE VOYAGE OF THE VEGA. [chap. 

men on its roof were compelled to work night and day to keep 
the pieces of ice at a distance with poles. 

The great inundation had even taken the migrating birds at 
unawares. For long stretches there was not a dry spot for 
them to rest upon, and thus it happened that exhausted ptarmigan 
alighted among the men on the roof; once a ptarmigan settled 
on Meyenwaldt's head, and a pair on the dogs. 

On the 23rd June the water began to fall, and by the 25th it 
had sunk so low that Nummelin and his companions could leave 
the roof and remove to the deserted interior of the house. 

The narrative of Nummelin's return to Europe by sea, in 
company with Schwanenberg, belongs to a following chapter. 


The history of the North-Eiist Passage from 1556 to 1878— Burrongh, 1556 
—Pet and Jackman, 1580— The first voyage of the Dutch, 1594— Oliver 
Brunei — The second voyage, 1595 — -The third voyage, 1596 — Hudson, 
1608— Gourdon, 1611 — Bosman, 1625 — De la Martiniere, 1653 — 
Vlamingh, 1664 — Snobberger, 1675 — ^Roule reaches a land north of 
Novaya Zemlya — Wood and Flawes, 1676 -Discussion in England con- 
cerning the state of the ice in the Polar Sea — -Views of the condition of 
the Polar Sea still divided — Payer and Weyprecht, 1872-74. 

The sea which washes the north coast of European Russia 
is named by King Alfred (Orosius, Book I. Chaps, i. ii.) the 
Quaen Sea (in Anglo-Saxon Owen Sae),^ a distinctive name, 
which unquestionably has the priority, and well deserves to be 
retained. To the inhabitants of Western Europe the islands, 
Novaya Zemlya and Vaygats, first became known through 
Stephen Burrough's voyage of discovery in 1556. Burrough 
therefore is often called the discoverer of Novaya Zemlya, but 
incorrectly. For when he came thither he found Russian 
vessels, manned by hunters v/ell acquainted with the navigable 
waters and the land. It is clear from this that Novaya Zemlya 
had then already been known to the inhabitants of Northern 
Russia for such a length of time that a very actively prosecuted 
hunting could arise tliere. It is even probable that in the 
same way as the northernmost part of Norway was already 
known for a thousand years back, not only to wandering Lapps, 
but also to Norwegians and Quaens, the lands round Yugor 
Schar and Vaygats were known several centuries before Bur- 
rough's time, not only to the nomad Samoyeds on the main- 

■^ In Bosworth's translation this name is replaced by White Sea, an un- 
necessary modernising of the name, and incorrect besides, as the White 
Sea is only a bay of the ocean which bounds Europe on the north. 


land, but also to various Beorma or Finnish tribes. Probably 
the Samoyeds then, as now, drove their reindeer herds up 
thither to pasture on the grassy jslains along the coast of the 
Polar Sea, where they were less troubled by the mosquito and 
the reindeer fly than further to the south, and probably the wild 
nomads were accompanied then, as now, by merchants from the 
more civilised races settled in Northern Russia. The name 
Novaya Zemlya (New Land), indicates that it was discovered 
at a later period, probably by Russians, but we know neither 
when nor how.' The narrative of Stephen Burrough's voyage, 
which, like so many others, has been preserved from oblivion 
by Hakluyt's famous collection, thus not only forms a sketch 
of the first expedition of West-Europeans to Novaya Zemlya, 
but is also the princij^al source of our knowledge of the earliest 
Russian voyages to these regions. I shall on this account go 
into greater detail in the case of this voyage than in those of 
the other voyages that will be referred to here. 

It is self-evident that the new important commercial treaties, 
to which (Jhancelor's discovery of the route from England to 
the White Sea led, would be hailed with great delight both 
in Eno'land and in Russia, and would give occasion to a number 
of new undertakings. At first, as early as 1555, there was 
formed in England a company of " merchant adventurers of 
England for the discoverie of landes, territories, isles, dominions, 
and seigniories unknowen," commonly called " the Muscovy 
Company." Sebastian Cabot, then almost an octogenarian, was 
appointed governor for the term of his natural life, and a 
number (»f privileges were conferred upon it by the rulers 
both of England and Russia. At the same time negotiators, 
merchants, and inquirers were sent by different ways from 
England to Russia in order to confirm the amity with that 
country, and more thoroughly examine the, at least to England, 
new world, which had now been discovered in the East. But a 
detailed account of these journeys does not enter into the plan 
of this work. 

With this, however, men were not content. They considered 
Chancelor's voyage as but the first step to something far more 
important, namely, the opening of the North-East Passage to 
China and India. While Chancelor himself the year after his 
return was sent along with several merchants to the White 

1 The Eussian chronicles state that the land between the Dwina and the 
Petchora (Savolotskaja Tchad) was made tributary under the Slavs in 
Novgorod during the first half of the ninth century. A monastery is 
spoken of in the beginning of the twelfth century at the mouth of the 
Dwina, whence we may conclude that the land was even then partly 
peopled by Russians, but we want trustworthy information as to the time 
when the Russian-Finnish Arctic voyages liegan (compare F. Litke, Vier- 
vialige lieise (lurch das n'urdliche Eiamcer. Berlin, 1835, p. 3), 


Sea, a further attempt was planned to reach the east coast of 
Asia by the same route. A small vessel, the Scarchthrift, was 
fitted out for this purpose and placed under the command of 
Stephen Burrough.^ The most important occurrences during 
the voyage were the following : — 

On the ^"^. y^^.', 1556, the start was made from Ratcliffe to 

iird April, ' 

Blackwall and Grays. Here Sebastian Cabot came on board, 
together with some distinguished gentlemen and ladies. They 
were first entertained on board the vessel and gave , liberal 
presents to the sailors, alms being given at the same time to a 
number of poor people, in order that they might pray for good 
luck and a good voyage ; " then at the signe of the Christopher, 
Master Cabot and his friends banketted, and made them that 
were in the company great cheere ; and for very joy that he 
had to see the towardness of our intended discovery, he entered 
into the dance himselfe, amongst the rest of the young and 
lusty company." At Orwell Burrough left his own vessel, in 
order, at the wish of the merchants, to make the passage to 
Vardoehus in the Edward Bonaventiu'e. In the end of May 
he was off the North Cape, which name Burrough says he 
gave to this northernmost headland of Europe during his 
first voyage.'^ When Burrough left the Edward Bonaventure 
and went on board his own vessel is not stated, but on the ^i*^ 
June he replied on the S&archthrift to the parting salute of 
the Edward Bonaventure. On the ^~ June Kola was reached, 
and its latitude fixed at 65° -IS'.^ 

" On Thursday the -jl June at 6 of the clocke in the morn- 
ing, there came aboord of vs one of the Russe Lodiaes, rowing 
with tweutie oares, and there were foure and twentie men in 
her. The master of the boate presented me with a great loafe 
of bread, and six rings of bread, which they call Colaches, 
and foure dryed pikes, and a peck of fine otemeale, and I gave 

^ The voyage is described in Hakluyt, 1st Edition, p. 311. It is inserted 
in the list of contents in the following terms : " The voyage of Steven 
Burrough towarde the river Ob, intending the discoverie of the north-east 
passage. An. 1556." It appears from the introduction to Hakluyt's work 
that the narrative was revised by Burrough himself. In the text Burrowe 
is written instead of Burrough. 

2 As I have already mentioned, von Herbertstein states that the Russians 
(Istoma and others) as early as 1496 sailed round the northern extremity 
of Norway in boats, which when necessary could be carried over hind. 
North Cape, or rather Nordkyn, was called at that time Murmanski Nos (the 
Norman Cape). When Hulsius in his collection of travels gives von 
Herbertstein's account of Istoma's voyage, he considers Swjatoi Nos on 
the Kola peninsula to be North Cape (Hamel, Tradescant, St. Petersburg, 
1847, p. 40). 

•* This must be a slip of the pen or an error of the press; it was probab'y 
intended to be 68' 48'. Kola lies in 68° 51' N. L. 


vuto the Master of the boate a combe, and a small glasse. He 
declared vnto me that he was bound to Pechora, and after that 
I made to drinke, the tide being somewhat broken, they gently 
departed. The Master's name was Pheother (Feodor). . . . 
Thursday (the ?|*^ June) we weyed our ankers in the Eiuer Cola, 
and went into the Sea seuen or eight leagues, where we met 
with the winde farre Northerly, that of force it constrained vs 
to goe againe backe into the sayd riuer, where came aboord of 
vs sundry of their Boates, which declared unto me that they 
were also bound to the northwards, a fishing for Morse and 
Salmon, and gave me liberally of their white and wheaten bread. 

" As we roade in this riuer, wee saw dayly comming downe 
the riuer many of their Lodias, and they that had least, had 
foure and twentie men in them, and at the last they grew to 
thirtie saile of them ; and amongst the rest, there was one of 
them whose name was Gabriel, who shewed me very much 
friendshippe, and he declared vnto mee that all they were 
bound to Pechora, a fishing for salmons, and morses : insomuch 
that hee shewed mee by demonstrations, that with a faire winde 
we had seuen or eight dayes sailing to the riuer Pechora, so 
that I was glad of their company. This Gabriel promised to 
giue mee warning of shoales, as he did indeede. . . . Sunday 
being the one and twentieth day [of June, 1st July new style], 
Gabriel gaue mee a barrell of Meade, and one of his spfeciall 
friends gaue me a barrell of beere, which was caryed upon 
mens backs at least 2 miles. 

" Munday we departed from the riuer Cola, with all the rest 
of the said Lodias, but sailing before the wind they were all 
too good for vs : ^ but according to promise, this Gabriel and his 
friend did often strike their sayles, and taryed for us forsaking 
their owne company. Tuesday at an Eastnortheast sunne we 
were thwart of Cape St. John.- It is to be vnderstood, that 
from the Cape S. John vnto the riuer or bay that goeth to 
Mezen, it is all sunke land, and full of shoales and dangers, 

1 This statement is very remarkable. For it shows that the vessels, 
that were then used by the Russians and Fins, were not very inferior as 
compared with those of the West- Europeans, which is confirmed by the 
fact, among others, that, nowhere in accounts of the voyages of the 
English or Dutch in former times to Novaya Zemlya, do we find it stated 
that in respect to navigation they were very superior to the Kola men. 
As the Russian-Finnish lodjas of the time were probably beyond the 
influence of the shipbuilding art of Western Europe, it is of importanceto 
collect all that is known about the way in which these vessels were built. 
Several drawings of them occur in the accounts of the Dutch voyages, but 
it is uncertain how far they are accurate. According to these the lodja 
was klinker-built, whh boards not riveted together but bound fast with 
willows, as is still occasionally practised in these regions. The form of 
the craft besides reminds us of that of the present walrus-hunting sloop. 

* Cape Woronov, on the west side of the mouth of the river Mesen. 




you shall haue scant two fadome water auJ see no land. And 
this present day wee came to an anker thwart of a creeke, 
which is 4 or 5 leagues to the northwards of the sayd Cape, 
into which creeke Gabriel and his fellow rowed, but we could 
not get in : and before night there were aboue 20 saile that 
went into the sayd creeke, the wind being at the Northeast. 
We had indifferent good landfang. This afternoone Gabriel 
came aboord with his skiffe, and then I rewarded him for the 
good company that he kej)t with vs ouer the Shoales, with two 
small iuory combes, and a Steele glasse with two or three trifles 


After G. de Veer. 

more, for which he was not ungratefull. But notwithstand- 
ing, his first company had gotten further to the Northwards. 
Wednesday being Midsummer day we sent our skiffe aland to 
sound the creeke, where they found it almost drie at a low 
water. And all the Lodias within were on ground. (In con- 
sequence of the threatening appearance of the weather Bur- 
rough determined to go into the bay at high water. In 
doing so he ran aground, but got help from his Russian 
friends.) Gabriel came out with his skiffe, and so did sundry 
others also, shewing their good will to help us, but all to no 
purpose, for they were likely to have bene drowned for their 

v.] BURROUGH'S VOYAGE, 1556. 109 

labour, in so much that I desired Gabriel to lend me his 
anker, because our ovvne ankers were too big for our skiffe 
to lay out, who sent me his owne, and borrowed another also 
and sent it vs." 

After much trouble Burrough succeeded in getting his vessel 
off the shoal, and then sought for a better anchorage on the 
other side of Cape St, John. 

" Friday (JfirjmL) at afternoone we weyed, and departed from 
thence, the wether being mostly faire, and the winde at East- 
southeast, and plied for the place where we left our cable and 
anker, and our hawser, and as soone as we were at an anker the 
foresaid Gabriel came aboord of vs, with 3 or foure more of 
their small boats, and brought with them of their Aquauita? 
and Meade, professing unto me very much friendship, and 
reioiced to see vs agaiue, declaring that they earnestly thought 
that we had bene lost. This Gabriel declared vnto me that 
they had saued both the ankers and our hauser, and after we 
had thus communed, I caused 4 or 5 of them to goe into 
my cabbin, where I gaue them figs and made them such cheere 
as I could. While I was banketing of them, there came 
another of their Skiffes aboord with one who was a Kerill 
(Karelian), whose name afterwards I learned, and that he 
dwelt in Colmogro, and Gabriel dwelled in the towne of Cola, 
which is not far from the river's mouth. This foresaid Keril 
said vnto me that one of the ankers which I borrowed was his. 
I gave him thanks for the lone of it, thinking it had bene 
sufficient. And as I continued in our accustomed maner, that 
if the present which they brought were worth enterteinment, 
they had it accordingly, he brought nothing with him, and 
therfore I regarded him but litle. And thus we ended, and 
they took their leaue and went ashore. At their comming 
ashore, Gabriel and Keril were at vnconvenient words, and by 
the eares, as I vnderstand ; the cause was because the one had 
better enterteinment than the other; but you shal vnderstand 
that Gabriel was not able to make his party good, because 
there were 17 lodias of the Keril's company who tooke 
his part, and but 2 of Gabriel's company. The next high 
water Gabriel and his company departed from thence, and 
rowed to their former company and neighbours, which were 
in number 28 at the least, and all of them belonging 
to the river Cola. And as I vnderstood Keril made reckoning 
that the hauser which was fast in his anker should have bene 
his owne, and at first would not deliver it to our boat, insomuch 
that I sent him worde that I would complain vpon him, where- 
upon he deliuered the hauser to my company. The next day 


being Saturday, I sent our boat ou shore to fetch fresh water 
and wood, and at their coniming on shore this Keril welcomed 
our men most gently, and also banketed them, and in the 
meanetime caused some of his men to fill our baricoes with 
water, and to help our men to beare wood into their boat ; and 
then he put on his best siike coate, and his collar of pearles 
and came aboorde againe, and brought his present with him : 
and thus having more respect vnto his present than to his 
person, because I perceiued him to be vain-glorious, I bade 
him welcome and gaue him a dish of figs ; and then he 
declared vnto me that his father was a gentleman, and that he 
was able to shew me pleasure, and not Gabriel, who was but a 
priest's sonne." 

After Burrough has given account of a storm, during which 
he lost a jolly boat, which he had purchased at Vardoehus, and 
by which they were detained some time in the neighbourhood 
of Cape St. John (whose latitude was fixed at 66° 50') he 
continues : — 

"Saturday (the T^th July) at a Northnorthwest sunne the 
wind came at Eastnortheast, and then we weied, and plied to 
the Northwards, and as we were two leagues shot past the 
Cape, we saw a house standing in a valley, which is dainty to 
be seene in those parts and by and by I saw three men on the 
top of the hil. Then I iudged them, as it afterwards proued, 
that they were men which came from some other place to set 
traps to take vermin^ for their furres, which trappes we did 
perceiue very thicke alongst the shore as we went." 

The 14th to the 19th July, new style, were passed on the 
coast of Kanin Nos.^ On the 19th at noon Burrough was in 
lat. 68° 40' north. On Friday, the ^oth July another storm 
appeared to threaten. 

" And as I was musing what was best to be done, I saw a sail 
come out of a creeke under the foresayd Caninoz, which v/as 
my friend Gabriel, who forsook his harborough and company, 
and came as neere us as he might, and pointed vs to the 
Eastwards, and then we weyed and followed him. Saturday we 
went eastsoutheast and followed Gabriel, and he brought vs 
into an harborough called Morgiouets, which is 30 leagues 
from Caninoz. This morning Gabriel saw a smoke on ye way, 
who rowed vnto it with his skitfe, which smoke was two leagues 

^ Probably mountain foxes. Remains of these fox-traps are still 
frequently met with along the coast of the Polar Sea, where the Russians 
Iiave carried on hunting. 

2 Kanin Nos ia in 68° 30' N. L. 

v.] BUEROUGH'S VOYAGE, 155n. 171 

from the place where we road ; and at a Northwest sunne 
he came aboord again, and brought with him a Samoed,^ which 
was but a young man ; his apparell was then strange vnto vs, 
and he presented me with three young wild geese, and one 
young barnacle." 

On the 1^ July Burrough sailed past Dolgoi Island, and the 
f(^llowing day entered the mouth of the Petchora, the latitude 
of which was fixed at 69° 10'.' On the .^ they sailed out 
again over sandbanks in only five feet of water, and thanked 
God that their vessel was of so light draught. The day after 
ice was met with "for the first time. On the ^|}j^ in lat. 
70° 20' north, they had the meeting already described with an 
enormous whale.^ Somewhat later on the same day the 
SearcJithrift anchored in a good haven between two islands, 
situated in 70° 42' N. L.^ They were named by Burrough 
St. James's Islands. 

"Tuesday, the 2^^ we plyed to the Westwards alongst 
the shoare, the wind being at Northwest, and as I was about 
to come to anker, we saw a sail comming about the point 
whereunder we thought to have ankered. Then I sent a skiffe 
aboorde of him, and at their comming aboord, they tooke 
acquaintance of them, and the chiefe man said hee had bene 
in our company in the riuer Cola, and also declared vnto them 
that we were past the way which should bring vs to the Ob. 
This land, sayd he, is called Nova Zembla, that is to say, the 
New Land ; and then he came aboord himselfe with his skiffe he 
told me the like ... he made me also certaine demonstrations 
of the way to the Ob. I gave him a Steele glasse, two pewter 
spoons, and a paire of veluet sheathed knives ; and then he 
seemed somewhat the more willing to tary and shewed me as 
much as he knew for our purpose ; he also gave me 17 
wild geese. . . . This man's name was Loshak. Wednes- 
day, as we plied to Eastwards, we espied another saile, which 
was one of this Loshak's company, and we bare roome and 
spake with him, who in like sort tolde us of the Ob, as the other 
had done. . . . Friday (the l^Ty) the gale of winde began to 
ncrease, and came Westerly withall, so that by a Northwest 
suime we were at an anker among the Islands of Waigats, 
where we saw two small lodias ; the one of them came aboord 
of us and presented me with a great loafe of bread ; and they told 

1 This was the first meeting between VVest-Eiiropeans and Samoyeds. 
- The capes which bound tlie mouth of the Petchora— Cape Euski 
Savorot and Cape Medinski Savorot,— are very nearly in lat. 69°. 
•^ See above, page 129. 
* Evidently islands near the southern extremity of Novaya Zemlya. 

172 THE VOYAGE OF THE VEGA. [(;hap. 

me they were all of Colmogro, except one man that dwelt at 
Pechora, who seemed to be the chiefest among them in killmg 
of the Morse.^ There were some of their company on shoare 
which did chase a white beare ouer the high clifs into the 
water, which beare the lodia that was aboord of us killed in 
our sight. This day there was a great gale of wind at North, 
and we saw so much ice driving a seaboord that it was then no 
going to sea." 

During the first days of August the vessel lay for the most 
part in company with or in the neighbourhood of Loshak, 
who gave them information about the Samoyeds, after which 
Burrough visited their sacrificial places.^ 

" Tuesday (the "th) August we turned for the harborough 
where Loshak's barke lay,^ where, as before, we road vnder an 
Island. And there he came aboord of vs and said unto me : if 
God send wind and weather to serve, I will go to the Ob with 
you, because the Morses were scant at these Islands of Vaigats ; 
but if he could not get to the riuer of Ob, then he sayd hee 
would goe to the riuer of Narainzay,* where the people were not 
altogether so savage as the Samoyds of the Ob are : hee 
shewed me that they will shoot at all men to the vttermost of 
their power, that cannot speake their speech." 

On the ifth of August much ice was seen to drift towards the 
haven where the vessel lay, wherefore Burrough removed back 
to the place where he had lain a few days before, and whose 
latitude he now found to bo 70° 25'. Loshak left him unex- . 
pectedly the following day, while Burrough was taking solar 
altitudes, and on the '-th Burrou2fh too weighed anchor to sail 
south along the coast of Vaygats. After sailing about in these 
waters for a time, and being exposed to a severe storm with an 
exceedingly heavy sea, Burrough, on the ^^^*", determined to 
turn. On the ntt September he arrived at Colmogro, where 
he wintered with a view to continue his voyage next year to 
the Obi, This voyage, however, was abandoned, because he 
instead went westwards in order to search for two of the ships 

^ Probably he was of Finnish race. The Qiiaens in North Norway are 
still the most skilful harpooners. In recent times they have found rivals 
in skill with the harpoon and gun in the Lapps. 

^ The information Burrough obtained regarding the Samoyeds is given 
above at page 80. 

^ From the context, and the circumstance that "much ice was drifting 
in the sea," we may conclude that this haven was situated on the north 
side of the island at the entrance to the Kara Port. 

^ Probably the river which on Massa's map is called Narontza, and 
debouches on the west coast of Yalmal. 

v.] BURROUGH'S VOYAGE, 1556. 173 

which accompanied Chancelor, and which had been lost durino- 
the return voyage from Archangel.^ 

From this narrative we see that a highly developed Russian 
or Russian-Finnish navigation was carried on as early as the 
middle of the fifteenth century between the White Sea, the 
Petchora, Vaygats, and Novaya Zemlya, and that at that time the 
Russians or Finns even sailed to the Obi. The sketch, which 
Burrough gives of the Russian or Russian-Finnish hunters, 
shows, besides, that they were brave and skilful seamen, with 
vessels which for the time were very good, and even superior to 
the English in sailing before the wind. With very few alter- 
ations this sketch might also be applied to the'present state of 
things in these regions, which shows that they continue to stand 
at a point which was then high, but is now low. Taking a 
general view of matters, it appears as if these lands had rather 
fallen behind than advanced in well-being during the last 
three hundred years. 

To judge by a letter from the Russian Merchant Company, 
which was formed in London, it was at his own instance that 
Stephen Burrough in 1557 sailed from Colmogro, not to Obi, 

1 All the three vessels that were employed in the first English expedition 
to the North-east had an unfortunate fate, viz. : 

The Edward Bonaventure, commanded by Chancelor and Burrough, 
sailed in 1553 from England to the White Sea, returned to England in 
1554 and was on the way plundered by the Dutch {Purchos, iii. p. 250) ; 
started again with Cliancelor for the Dwina in 1555, and returned the same 
year to England under Captain John Buckland ; accompanied Burrough in 
1556 to the Kola peninsula; went thence to the Dwina to convey to England 
Chancelor and a Russian embassy, consisting of the ambassador Ossip 
Gregorjevitsch Nepeja and a suite of sixteen men ; the vessel besides being- 
laden with goods to the value of 20,000/. It was wrecked in the neigh- 
bourhood of Aberdeen (Aberdour Bay) on the 20th (10th) November. 
Cliancelor himself, his wife, and seven Russians were drowned, and most 
of the cargo lost. 

The Bona Esperanza, admiral of the fleet during the expedition of 1553. 
Its conmiander and whole crew perished, as has been already stated, of 
disease at Arzina on the coast of Kola in the beginning of 1554. The 
vessel was saved and was to have been used in 1556 to carry to England 
the Russian embassy already mentioned. After having been driven by a 
storm into the North Sea, it reached a harbour in the neighbourhood of 
Trondhjem, but after leaving that harbour-disappeared completely, nothing 
being known of its fate. 

The Bnna Confidentia was saved like the Bona Eaj^eranza after the dis- 
astrous wintering at Arzina ; was also used in conveying the Russian 
embassy from Archangel in 1556, but stranded on the Norwegian coast, 
every man on board perishing and the whole cargo being lost. 

Of the four vessels that left the Dwina on the 2nd August, 1556, only 
the Philip and j\rari/ succeeded, after wintering at Trondhjem, in reaching 
the Thames on the' 2«th (18th) April, 1557. (A letter of Master Henrie 
Lane to the worshipfull Master William Sanderson, containing a brief 
discourse of that wliich passed in the north-east discoverie, for the space 
of three and thirtie yeercs, Purehas, iii. p. 249.) 


but to the coast of Russian Lapland to search for the lost 
vessels.^ The following year the English were so occupied with 
their new commercial treaties with Russia and with the fitting 
out of Frobisher's three expeditions to the north-west, that it 
was long before a new attempt was made in the direction of the 
north-east, namely till Arthur Pets' voyage in 1580.'^ He was 
the first who penetrated from Western Europe into the Kara 
Sea, and thus brought the sohition of the problem of the 
North-East Passage to the Pacific a good way forward. Tlie 
principal incidents of this voyage too must therefore be briefly 
stated here. 

Pet and Jackmax, the former in the Cfcorge, the latter in the 
William, sailed from Harwich on the 3^5^., 1580. On the 
22'nd jun'e they doubled the North Cape, and on the |^ Jnly, Pet 
was separated from Jackman after appointing to meet with him 
at " Verove Ostrove or Waygats." On the ^^th land was in 
sight, the latitude having the preceding day been ascertained 
to be 71° 38'. Pet was thus at Gooseland, on the west coast 
of Novaya Zemlya. He now sailed E.S.E., and fell in with ice 
on the ^~i\\ July. On the ^,th July, land was seen, and the 
vessel anchored at an island, probably one of the many small 
islands in the Kara Port, where wood and water were taken 
on board. 

On the ^th July, Pet was in the neighbourhood of land in 
70° 26'. At first he thought that the land was an island, and 
endeavoured to sail round it, but as he did not succeed in doing 
so, he supposed it to be Novaya Zemlya. Hence he sailed in 
different directions between S.W. and S.E., and was on the 
^-^th in 69° 40' N.L. Next day there was lightning with showers 
of rain. Pet believed himself now to be in Petchora Bay, and 
after sighting, on the ^^th July, the headland which bounds the 
mouth of the river on the north-east, he sailed, it would seem, 
between this headland and the Selenetz Islands into the great 
bay east of Medinski Savorot. Here he made soundings on 
the supposition that the sound between Vaygats Island and the 

1 Hamel, Tradescant der altere, p. 106. Hakluyt, 1st Edition, p. 321). 
The vo'iage of the foresaid M. Stephen Burrough An. \bbl from. Colmogro to 
Wordhouse , &c. This voyage of Burrough has attracted little attention ; 
from it however we learn that the Dutch even at that time carried on an 
extensive commerce with Russian Lapland. In the same narrative there 
is also a list of words with statements of prices and suitable goods for 
trade with the inhabitants of the Kola peninsula. 

2 Two accounts of this voyage are to be found in Hakluyt's collection 
(pp. 466 and 476). A copy of Pet's own journal was discovered some 
years ago, along with other books, frozen in among the remains of 
Barents' wintering on the north-east side of Novaya Zemlya. It has not 
been published, but is in the possession of Consul Rein at Hammerfest, 

v.] PET'S AND JACKMAN'S VOYAGE, 1580. 175 

mainland would open out at this place, but the water was found 
to be too shallow, even for a boat. Pet now sailed past Yugor 
Schar along the coast of Vaygats towards Novaya Zemlya, 
to a bay on the west coast of Vaygats Island, where he anchored 
between two small islands, which were supposed to be Woronski 
Ostrov. The entrance to an excellent haven was indicated 07i hoth 
sides hy two crosses} On the islands there was abundance of 
driftwood, and on one of them was found a cross, at the foot 
of which a man was buried. Pet inscribed his name on the 
cross, and likewise on a stone at the foot of the cross, "in order 
that Jackman, if he came thither, might know that Pet had 
been there." In the afternoon Pet again weighed anchor, 
doubled the western extremity of Vaygats Island, and con- 
tinued his voyage, following all along the coast of Vaygats, 
first to the north and north-east, then to the south, between 
an ice-field and the land, until the ice came so close to the 
shore that the vessel could make no headway, when he anchored 
in a good haven by an island which lay on the east side of 
Vaygats in the neighbourhood of the mainland. It was per- 
haps the island which in recent maps is called Mestni Island. 
Pet was thus now in the Kara Sea.^ The latitude given — 
69° 14' — shows even, if it is correct, that he went far into the 
bay at the mouth of the Kara river. Here Pet fell in with his 
comrade Jackman, from whom he had parted on the coast of 
Kola, and of whose voyage during the interval we know nothing. 
When the vessels met they were both damaged by ice. As, 
in addition, the sea to the north and east was barred by compact 
masses of ice, the captains, after deliberating with the inferior 
officers, determined to return. They had, also, during the 
return voyage, to contend with formidable ice obstacles, until, 
on the |th August, in Lat. 69° 49' north, near the south- 
eastern extremity of Vaygats they met with open water. They 
sailed along the east coast of Vaygats through the Kara Port, 
which was passed on the j-^th August. Hence th'e course was 
shaped for Kolgujev Island, on whose sandbanks both vessels 

1 The Russians had thus landmarks on Novaya Zemlya 300 years ago. 

2 It is commonly assumed that Pet sailed into the Kara Sea through 
Yugor Schar, but that this was not the case is shown partly by the fact 
that he never sj^eaks of sailing througli a long and narrow sound, partly 
by the account of the many islands which he saw in his voyage, and partly 
by the statement that coming from the south he sailed round the western- 
m.ost promontory of Vaygats Island. If we except small rocks near the 
shore, there are no islands off the southern part of Vaygats Island. In 
sailing east of Medinski Savorot, Pet took the land south of Yugor 
Schar for Vaygats, and the soundings on the 29th (19th) July were 
carried out uncloubtedly in the mouth of some small river debouching 


ran aground, but were soon got off again without loss. The 
latitude of the sandbanks was correctly fixed at 68° 48'. 

On the 4^,^7'- the William was again lost sight of.^ On the 

22nd Aug. o ~ 

2 WhAui the George anchored in Tana Fiord, on which there was 
a town named Hungon.^ Two days afterwards the George 
doubled the North Cape, and on the ^^^ again anchored 

1 ■^ 2fath Uct. D 

at Ratcliffe. 

Pet and Jackman were the first north-east explorers who 
ventured themselves in earnest amongst the drift-ice. In 
navigating among ice they showed good judgment and readiness 
of resource, and in the history of navigation the honour falls 
to them of having commanded the first vessels from Western 
Europe that forced their way into the Kara Sea. It is there- 
fore without justification that Baerow says of them that they 
were but indifferent navigators.^ 

With Pet and Jackman's voyage the English North -East 
Passage expeditions were broken off for a long time. But the 
problem was, instead, taken up with great zeal in Holland. 
Through the fortunate issue of the war of freedom with Spain, 
and the incitement to enterprise which civil freedom always 
brings along with it, Holland, already a great industrial and 
commercial state, had begun, towards the close of the sixteenth 
century, to develop into a maritime power of the first rank. 
But navigation to India and China was then rendered impossible 
for the Dutch, as for the English, by the supremacy of Spain 
and Portuo^al at sea, and through the endeavours of these 
countries to retain the sole right to the commercial routes they 
had discovered. In order to become sharers in the great profits 
which commerce with the land of silks and perfumes brought 
with it, it therefore appeared to be indispensable to discover 

1 Of Jackman Hakluyt says (2nd Edition, i. p. 453) : " William with 
Charles Jackman came to a haven in Norway between Tronden and 
Rostock in October, 1580, and wintered there. Thence the following 
February he went with a vessel, belonging to the king of Denmark, to 
Iceland, and since then nothing has been heard of him." About that time 
an English ship stranded at the Ob, and the crew were killed by the 
Samoyeds. It has been conjectured that it possibly was Jackman (compare 
Purchas, iii. p. 546 ; Hamel, p. 238). It is more probable that the 
vessel which sufEered this fate was that which, two years before Pet and 
Jackman's voyage, appears to have been sent out by the Muscovy Com- 
pany to j^enetrate eastwards from the Petchora. The members of this 
expedition were James Bassendine, James Woodcocke, and Richard 
Brown, but we know nothing concerning it except the very sensible 
and judicious rules that were drawn up for the expedition {Hallui/t, 1st 
Edition, p. 406). 

^ I have not been able to find any name resembling this on modern 

^ A Chronological History of Voyarjes into the Arctic Regions. London, 
1818, p. 99. 






a new sea route north of Asia or America to the Eastern seas. 
If such a route had been actually found, it was clear that the 
position of Holland would have been specially favourable for 
undertaking this lucrative trade. In this state of things we 
have to seek for the reason of the delight with which the Dutch 
hailed the first proposal to force a passage by sea north of Asia 
to China or Japan. Three successive expeditions were at great 
expense fitted out for this purpose. These expeditions did 
not, indeed, attain the intended goal — the discovery of a 
north-eastern sea route to Eastern Asia, but they not only 
gained for themselves a prominent 
place in the history of geographical 
discovery, but also repaid a hundred 
fold the money that had been spent 
on them, in part directly through 
the whale-fishing to which they 
gave rise, and wliich was so profit- 
able to Holland, and in part in- 
directly through the elevation they 
gave to the self-respect and national 
feeling of the people. They com- 
pared the achievements of their 
coar.trymen among the ice and 
snow of the Polar lands to the voy- 
age of the Argonauts, to Hannibal's 
passage of the Alps, and to the 
campaign of the Macedonians in 
Asia and the deserts of Libya 
(see, for instance, Blavius, Aflos 
major, Latin edition, t. i., pp.^ 24 
and 81.) As these voyages 
together present the grandest 
attempts to solve the problem 
that lay before the Vega expedi- 
tion, I shall here give a some- 
what detailed account of them. 

The First Dutch Expedition, 1594. — This was fitted out 
at the expense of private persons, mainly by the merchants 
Balthasar Mucheron, Jacob Valcke, and Franciscus 
Maelson. The first intention was to send out only two 
vessels with the view of forcing a passage through the sound 
at Vaygats towards the east, but on the famous geographer 
Plancius representing that the route north of Novaya Zemlya 
was that which would lead most certainly to the desired goal, 
other two were fitted out, so that no fewer than four vessels 
went out in the year 1594 on an exploratory expedition towards 
the north. Of these, two, viz. a large vessel, specially equipped, 



After G. de Veer. 


it would appear, for the northern waters, called the Mercurius, 
and commanded bj Willem Barents,^ and a common fishing- 
sloop, attempted the way past the northern extremity of Novaya 
Zemlya. The two others, viz. the Swan of Zeeland, com- 
manded by CoRNELIS CoRNELisz. Nay, and the Mercurius 
of Enkhuizen, commanded by Brandt Ysbrandtsz. Tetgales, 
were to pass through the sound at Vaygats Island. 

All the four vessels left the Texel on the ^^th June, and 
eighteen days later arrived at Kilduin in Kussian Lapland, 
a place where at that time vessels, bound for the White 
Sea, often called. Here the two divisions of the expedition 
parted company. 

Barents sailed to Novaya Zemlya, which was reached on the 
- th July in 73° 25' ; the latitude was determined by measuring 
the altitude of the midnight sun at an island which was called 
Willem' s Island. Barents sailed on along the coast in a 
northerly direction, and two days afterwards reached the 
latitude of 75° 54' north. On the "th July there was a re- 
markable chase of a Polar bear. The bear was fallen in with 
on land and Avas pierced by a bullet, but notwithstanding this 
he threw himself into the water, and swam with a vigour 
" that surpassed all that had been heard of the lion or other 
wild animal." Some of the crew pursued him in a boat, and 
succeeded in casting a noose round his neck in order to catch 
him living, with a view to carry him to Holland, But when 
the bear knew that he was caught ''he roared and threw him- 
self about so violently that it can scarcely be described in 
words." In order to tire him they gave him a little longer line, 
rowing forward slowly the while, and Barents at intervals struck 
him with a rope. Enraged at this treatment, the bear swam to 
the boat, and caught it with one of his forepaws, on which 
Barents said : '' he wishes to rest himself a little." But the 
bear had another object in view, for he cast himself into the 
boat with such violence that half his body was soon within it. 
The sailors were so frightened that they rushed to the fore and 
thought that their last hour was come. Fortunately the bear 
could make no further advance, because the noose that was 

1 His proper name was Willem Barentszoon ; it was also written Barentz, 
Barendsz, Bernards^on, &c. Barents' three voyag-es formed the subject of 
a work by Gerrit de Veer, which was published for the hrst time in 1598 
at Amsterdam in a Dutch, a Latin, and a French edition. The last- 
mentioned has the following title : Vray Description de Trois Vot/ages des 
Mer irh admirahles faicU . . . par les navires d' Hollande & ZeJande 
au nord . . . vers les Roj/aumes de China & Catay, etc. Afterwards 
this work was frequently reprinted in different languages, both singly and 
in DE Bry's, Purchas', and other collections of Travels. See on this point 
P. A. Tiele, ]\[emoire bibliographique sur les journaux des navigateurs Neer- 
landais. Amsterdam, 1867. 




thrown round his neck had fastened in the rudder. A sailor 
taking courage, now_ went aft and killed the bear Aviththe stroke 
of an axe. The skin was sent to Amsterdam. On account of 
this occurrence the place was called " Bear Cape." 

Barents sailed on towards the north and north-east, past the 
place which he called Cruys Eylandt (Cross Island) ^ and Cape 
jSTassau, a name which has been retained in recent maps, to the 
latitude of 77" 55', which was reached on the ~ July. Here 
from the mast-top an ice-field was seen, which it was impossible 
to_ see beyond, which compelled Barents to turn. However, he 
still remained in these northern regions, waiting for a better 
state of the ice, till the '~^^, when the vessel was due west 


After G. de Veer. 

of a promontory situated in latitude 77'^ north, which was 
named Ice Cape. Some gold-glittering stones were found here 
on the ground. Such ^finds have played a not inconsiderable 
role in the history of Arctic voyages, and shiploads of worthless 
ore have on several occasions been brought home. On the 
loth^^^ while sailing among the Orang^e Islands, they saw 200 

31st July ' ^ <^ o 'J 

walruses on land. The sailors attacked them with axes and 
lances, without killing a single walrus, but they succeeded 
during the attempt to kill them in striking out several tusks, 
which they carried home with them. 

Convinced that he could not reach the intended goal by this 

^ From two large crosses which were found erected on the island. This 
shows that the Russians had also explored the north part of Novaya 
Zeralya before the West-Europeans. 

N 2 


northern route, Barents determined, after consulting with his 
men, to turn south and sail to Vaygats, While sailing down, 
Barents, in latitude 71° north, makes the remark that he was 
now probably at a place where Oliver Brunel ^ had been 
before, and which had been named by him Costinsark, evidently 
the present Kostin Schar, a Russian name still in use for the 
sound which separates Meschduschar Island from the main 
island. It ougiit to be observed, however, that on old maps 

' The name Oliver Brunei occurs so often in accounts of the first voyages 
to Novaya Zemlya, and the man who bore it appears to have exercised so 
great an influence on the development of commercial communications with 
Kussia, and the sending out of exploratory expeditions to tlie North Polar 
Saa, that I shall give a brief sketch of his life, mainly after S. Muller, 
Geschiedenis der Noordsche Compagnie, Utrecht, 1874, p. 26. 

Oliver Brunei was born in Brussels, and in 1565 went in a Russian 
vessel from Kola to Kolmogor in order to learn the Russian language and 
make himself acquainted with the trade of the region. But the English, 
who of course eagerly endeavoured to prevent any intrusion on their 
newly-discovered commercial territory, prevailed on the Russians to keep 
him in prison for several years. In the end he was set at liberty, or rather 
handed over to the rich merchants Jakov and Grigory Anikiev(Stroganov). 
In consequence of this, Brunei came to take part in the commercial 
expeditions sent out by this mercantile house, (which by the conquest of 
Siberia acquired a world-historical importance, both by land and sea,) to 
the parts of Asia bordering on Russia, whereby he became well acquainted 
with the Polar Sea and the Gulf of Obi. Brunei afterwards brought about 
direct communication between the Netherlands and the great commercial 
house, almost sovereign de facto if not dejure in extensive countries. In 
connection with this Brunei made strenuous exertions to open in earnest the 
navigation of the Netherlands to the White Sea, and there found a 
Netherlands factory, which was placed not on Rosen Island, which was 
occupied by the English, but on the spot where the present Archangel is 
situated. Brunei next took part in preparations for a Russian Nortli-east 
expedition, for which Swedish shipbuilders were received into Stroganov's 
service. Brunei himself travelled by land to Holland to enlist men. A 
number of particulars regarding these undertakings of Brunei are con- 
tained in a letter of John Balak to Gerard Mercator^ dated "Arusburgi 
ad Ossellam fluvium " the 20th February, 1581. The letter is printed m 
the second edition of Ilakhnjf, 1598, i. p. 509. Scarcely however had 
Brunei returned to his native country, before he altered his plan and 
wished to procure for his own fatherland the honour and advantage of the 
undertaking. The first attempt of the Dutch to reach Chijia and Japan by 
the north-east thus came about. Of this voyage we know only that Brunei 
endeavoured without success to sail through Yugor Schar, and that his 
vessel, heavily laden with furs, plates of mica, and rock-crystal, was 
wrecked on the way home at the mouth of the Petchora (Beschri/viughe 
vander Samoyeden Landt in Tartar len, &c. Amsterdam, 1612. S. Muller's 
Photolithographic Reproduction, 1878). The mica and rock-crystal were 
undoubtedly brought from the Ural, as no useful plates of mica or large 
rock-crystals are foiuid in the region of the Petchora. Brunei then entered 
the Danish service. For we know that an Oliver Brunei during the reign 
of King Fredrik II. in Denmark offered to explore Greenland, and for that 
purpose in 1583 obtained the right to settle in Bergen and there enjoy six 
years freedom from taxes (Cf . Groenlands historiske Mindesmocrker, Copen- 
hagen, 1838, vol. iii. p. 666). 

C (ler'tt 'Van't Uoordcrfte^ \us.seAV, ^Samojedejv , aide ^iite^ocjtri landt : alsoo dot vojidt- li^usstiv af^hcttktnt, en door Isaac Massa. vertadt 



Matotschkin Schar is often marked with some perversion of the 
word Kostin Schar. 

South of " St. Laurens Bay," i in 70|°, Barents, on the ?lf^ 
August, found upon a headland across erected, and in the neigh- 
bourhood of it three wooden buildings, the hull of a Russian 
vessel and several sacks of meal, and at the same place some 
graves, all clearly remains of some Russian salmon-fishers. On 
the fgth August he arrived at Dolgoi Island, where he fell in 
with the two other vessels from Zeeland and Enkhuizen that 
had come thither shortly before. All the four vessels sailed 
back thence to Holland, arriving there in the middle of 
September. The narrative of this voyage closes with the 
statement that Barents brought home with him a walrus, which 
had been fallen in with and killed on the drift-ice. Barents 
during this journey discovered and explored the northern part of 
Novaya Zemlya, never before visited by West-European seafarers. 

The two other vessels, that left the Texel at the same time as 
Barents, also made a remarkable voyage, specially sketched by 
the distinguished voyager Jan Huyghen van Linschoten.^ 

The vessels were manned by fifty men, among them two 
interpreters — a Slav, Christoffel Splindler, and a Dutch 
merchant, who had lived long in Russia, Fr. de LA Dale. 
Provisions for eight months only were taken on board. At first 
Nay and Tetgales accompanied Barents to Kilduin, which island 
is delineated and described in considerable detail in Linschoten's 

On the —■ July Nay and Tetgales sailed from Kilduin for 
Vaygats Island. Three days afterwards they fell in with much 
drift-ice. On the ||th they arrived at Toxar, according to 
Linschoten's map an island on the Timan coast, a little west of 
the entrance to Petchora. They there met with a Russian 
lodja whose captain stated that he believed, after hearsay, that 
the Vaygats Sound ^ was continually covered with ice, and that, 
when it was passed, men came to a sea which lay to the south 
of, and was warmer than, the Polar Sea. Some other Russians 
added, the following day, that it was quite possible to sail 
through Vaygats Sound, if the whales and walruses, that 

^ Probably the Saclianich Bay of the Russians. 

- Voi/af/ie, ofte ScJiip Vaert, van Jan Huyghen van Linschoten, van hy 
Xoorden om lancjes Noorwegen de Noortcaep, Lapkmt, Vinlunt, Ruslandt 

. . , tot voorby de revier Ohy, Franeker, 1601. Another edition at 
Amsterdam in 1624, and in abstract in Saeghman's collection of travels in 
1665. The voyage is also described in Blavii Atlas Major, 1665. Lin- 
schoten was " commis " on board, a post which included both the employ- 
ment of supercargo and that of owners' commissioner. 

"* That is Yugor Schar. This name also occurs, though in a somewhat 
altered form, as " Wegorscoi tzar," on Isaac Massa's map of 1612, which, 
according to the statement of the i^ublisher, is a copy of a Russian chart. 



[chap. v. 

destroy all vessels that seek to pass through, did not form an 
obstacle ; that the great number of rocks and reefs scarcely 
permitted the passage of a vessel ; and finally, that the Grand 
Duke had ordered three vessels to attempt tlie passage, but 
that they had all been crushed by ice. 


Born in 15G3 at Haarlem, died in 1611 at Enkhuizen. 

After a portrait in liis work, Navigatio in Orientalem sive Lusitanorum Indiam, 

Hagre Comitis, 1599. 

On the p'^','' July there came to Toxar hunters from the White 
Sea, who spoke another language than the Russians, and 
belonged to another race of men — they were evidently Finns or 
Karelians. A large number of whales were seen in the haven, 
which gave occasion to a remark by Linschoten that whale-fishing 


ouo-bt to be profitable there. After the ice had broken up, and 
crosses with inscriptions giving information of their movements 
had been erected on the shore, they sailed on. On the |jSt July 
they sighted Vaygats. They landed at a headland marked with 
two crosses, and there fell in with a native, clad in much the 
same way as a Kilduin Lapp, who soon took to flight. Other 
headlands marked with crosses were afterwards visited, and 
places where idols were found set up by hundreds. Linschoten 
also landed on that Idol Cape which was visited during the 
voyage of the Vega. There were then from three to four 
hundred wooden idols, which, according to Linschoten's descrip- 
tion, were very similar in appearance to those we saw. They 
were so ill made, says he, that one could scarcely guess that 
they were intended to represent men. The visage was very 
broad, the nose projecting, there were two holes in place of the 
eyes, and another hole represented the mouth. Five, six, or 
seven faces were often found carved on one and the same stock 
" perhaps intended to represent a whole family." Many Russian 
crosses were also erected there. Some days later they found on 
the south shore of the sound a small house filled with idols, 
much better made than the former, with eyes and paps 
of metal. While the Dutch were employed in examining this 
collection of idols, a reindeer sleds^e was driven forward in which 
sat a man armed with a bow. When he saw the foreigners, he 
called loudly, on which a number of sledges with about thirty 
men drove out of a valley and endeavoured to surround the 
Dutch. They now fled in haste to their boat, and when it had 
left the beach the Samoyeds shot at it with their arrows, but 
without hitting it. This bloodless conflict is, so far as we know, 
the only one that took place between the natives and the 
north-east voyagers. The latter are thus free from the great 
bloodguiltiness which attaches to most of those, who in the 
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries made voyages of discovery in 
southern regions. 

Some days later, on the '3';^'';^/*, the Dutch had a friendly 
meeting with the Samoyeds, who gave them very correct in- 
formation concerning the state of the land and the sea, telling 
them that " after ten or twelve days they would meet with no 
more ice, and that summer would last six or seven weeks 
longer." After the Dutch had learned all they could from these 
" barbarians, who had greater skill in managing their bow than 
a nautical gnomon, and could give better information regarding 
their hunting than about the navigable water," they took their 
departure. When one of the sailors hereupon blew a horn, the 
savages were so frightened, that they began to take to flight, 
but, quieted by the assurance that the blast of the horn was 
only a sign of friendship, they returned and on the beach 


saluted the departing strangers, bowing themselves to the earth 
with uncovered heads and crossed hands. 

On the ^^~ August the Dutch, full of hope, sailed into the 
Kara Sea, or, as they called it, the " North Tartaric Ocean." 
They soon fell in with ice, on which account on the ^ they 
sought protection under Mestni Island (Staten Eiland). Here 
they found a sort of rock crystal resembling diamonds in all 
respects except hardness, a disaiDpointing circumstance which 
was ascribed to the action of cold. Here also were seen images 
and sacrificial places, but no houses and no trees. 

When Nay and Tetgales sailed on, they came to an extensive 
open sea, and on the ^||th August they believed that they were 
otf the mouth of the Obi. Two of its principal mouth-arms 
they named, after the vessels, " Swan " and " Mercurius," names 
which have since been forgotten. It is quite evident that the 
river which the Dutch took for the Obi was the Kara, and that 
the mouth-arms. Swan and Mercurius, were two small coast 
rivers which debouch from Yalmal into the Kara Sea. 

On the 5^ August they determined to return home, taking it 
for proved that, from the point which had been reached, it would 
be easy to double " Promontorium Tabin," and thus get to China 
by the north-east passage. A large number of whales were seen 
raising half their bodies out of the sea and spouting jets of water 
from their nostrils in the common way, which was considered a 
further sign that they had an extensive ocean before them. 

On the j-^th August, Nay and Tetgales sailed again through 
Yugor Schar (Fretum Nassovicum). and the day after at three 
small islands, which w^ere called Mauritius, Orange, and 
New Walcheren, they fell in with Barents, and all sailed 
home to Holland, fully convinced that the question of the 
possibility of a north-east passage to China was now solved. 
It was shown indeed, in the following year, that this supposition 
rested on quite too slight a foundation, but the voyages of Nay 
and Tetgales deserve in any case an honoured place in the 
history of navigation, for they extended considerably the know- 
ledge of the northern regions through the discovery, or at least 
through the first passage of, Yugor Schar, and, like Barents, 
tliese seafarers must get the credit of carrying out the task 
assigned to them with skill, insight, resolution, and resource. 

The Second Dutch Expedition, 1595.^ — After the return 
of the first expedition a report of the discoveries which had 
been made was given in to Prince Maurice of Orange, Jan _ 
VAN Oldenbarnevelt, Advocate of Holland, and the other 
authorities at home. They were so convinced by this report 

1 Accounts of this expedition are given both by De Veer and Linschoten 
in the above-named worivs. 




that the sea route to China was actually discovered, that they 
immediately made arrangements to send out the following year 
a flotilla of seven vessels, two from Amsterdam, two from 
Zeeland, two from Enkhuizen, and one from Rotterdam, with a 
view to open the new commercial communication. 

The commanders of the vessels were Cornelis Nay (Admiral), 
Brandt Tetgales (Second in Command), Barents, Lambert 
Gerritsz. Oom, Thomas Willemsz., Harman Jansz., and 
Hendrik Hartman. The lieutenants were Linschoten, Jacob 
HeemskerK; Fran^oys de la Dale, Jan Cornellsz., Rijp, 


Va vg-at-s , ffoRr 
^t'Enckhviyfcrcyhnf. ^^f^^^^n \\ ^ 



After Linschoten. 

and N. Buys. Six of the vessels were laden with goods and 
coin ; the seventh was to return home with news when the 
fleet had sailed through Vaygats Sound. The great prepara- 
tions, however, occupied so much time that it was not until the 
^~ July that the voyage could be begun. On the |^^ August, 
Kegor on the Ribatschni peninsula was sighted, and on the 
ffth August the fleet arrived at the Sound between Vaygats 
and the mainland, and found a great deal of ice there. 

On the i^'"''.'^? ' the Dutch met with some Russians, who told 

2-itli Aug. ' 

them that the winter had been very severe, but that the ice 
would in a short time disaj^pear, and that the summer would still 


last six weeks. They also stated that the land to the north- 
ward, which was called Vaygats, was an island, separated on its 
north side from Novaya Zendya; that it was visited in summer 
by natives, who towards winter returned to the mainland ; that 
Russian vessels, laden with goods, yearly sailed through Vaygats 
Sound past the Obi to the river Gillissy (Yenisej), where they 
passed the winter ; that the dwellers on the Yenisej were of the 
Greek-Christian religion, &c. 

On the ^jf^^ the Dutch came in contact with the Samoyeds 
south of Vaygats Sound. Their "king " received the strangers 
in a very hospitable and friendly manner, and informed them 
that in three or four weeks the cold would begin ; that in some 
years the diift-ice did not disappear; that during winter the 
whole sound and the bays and coves were frozen over, but that 
the sea on both sides did not freeze ; that beyond the mouth 
of the river Ob there were the mouths of two other rivers, 
of which the more remote was called the " Molconsay," the 
nearer, which was often visited by Russian trading vessels, the 
Gillissy ; that the land continued beyond the Ob to a cape which 
projected towards Novaya Zemlya, and that beyond this pro- 
montory there was a great sea, which extended along Tartary 
to warm regions.^ 

When the Dutch sailed into the Kara Sea they fell in with 
much ice, on which account they anchored at the island, Staten 
Eiland, where during the preceding voyage rock crystal had 
been found. Here two men were killed in the way that has 
already been described."^ Depressed by this unfortunate oc- 
currence and afraid to expose their vessels, laden with valuable 
goods, too late in the season, to the large quantity of ice which 
drifted about in the Kara Sea, the commanders determined to 
turn. The fleet returned to Holland without further adven- 
ture, passing through Vaygats Sound on the S?th September. 

This expedition did not yield any new .contribution to the 
knowledge of our globe. But it deserves to be noted that we 
can state with certainty, with the knowledge we now possess of 
the ice-conditions of the Kara Sea, that the Dutch during both 
their iirst and second voyages had the way open to the Obi and 
Yenisej. If they had availed themselves of this and continued 
their voyage till they came to inhabited regions on either of 
these rivers, a considerable commerce would certainly have 
arisen between Middle Asia and Europe by this route as early 
as the beginning of the seventeenth century, 

^ These remarkal)le statements are found in Linschoten's above-quoted 
work printed in ICOl, and cannot therefore be spurious. They thus show 
that Taimur Land was inhabited by Samoyeds, and that tlie geography 
of this region was then well known. 

- See atjove, p. 110. 




The Third Dutch Expedition, 1596-97.^ — After the 
unfortunate issue of the expedition of 1595, which had been 
fitted out at so great an expense, and which had raised so 
great expectations, the States-General would not grant the 
necessary funds for a third voyage, but they offered instead 
a great prize to the states or merchants that at their own 


During the Second Dutch Expedition. From De Veer. 

expense should send out a vessel that should by the route north 
of Asia force a passage to Asia and China.^ Encouraged by 

1 The sketch of this voyage forms the main portion of the above men- 
tioned work of De Veer. Undoubtedly the adventures during the wintering, 
the first in so high a latitude, in the first place procured for De Veer's 
work the enormous popularity it enjoyed, and led to its being translated 
into so many languages. 

2 The resolution regarding the offer of this prize is given below : 
Extractt nit het Eegister der Eesolutien van de Hoog Mogende Heeren 

Staten Generael der Vereenigde Nederlanden. 

Folio 158 v=° 13 April 1596. 

De Gedeputeerde van de Heeren Staten van Holland verclaren dat heure 
principalen geadviseert hebbende op de hervattinge van het voyagie naer 
China en Japan, benoorden cm, deselve voyage afgeslagen hebben, ten 
aenzien van de groote costen die nu twee Jaren achter den anderen om de 
reyse te verzoeken te vorgeefs angewent zijn, maer dat Hare E. goetge- 
vonden endegeconsenteert hebben, mede tgevolgh van de andere provincien 
bij zoeverre datter eenige coopiuijden aventuriers bij compagnie ofte 
anderssine de voerscreven reijse op heure costen ende risique, zonder te 


this offer the merchants of Amsterdam sent out two vessels, 
one under the command of Willem Barents and Jacob van 
Heemskerk, the other under Jan Cornelisz. Rijp. The crew 
were chosen with care, unmarried men being preferred, with 
the idea that wife and children would detract from the 
bravery of the members of the expedition and lead them to 
return home prematurely. 

On the J-^th May these vessels left Amsterdam. On the "th 
June they saw in lat. 71° North some beautiful parhelia, which 
are found delineated in De Veer's work, and Blavii Atlas 

On the '|th June one of the crew cried out from the deck 
that he saw white swans, but on a closer examination it appeared 
that they consisted of large pieces of ice, which drifted along 
the edge of the pack,^ On the '|th they discovered, north of 
North Cape, a new island, situated in latitude 7-i° 30' North. 
A large bear was killed here, and on this account the island 
was called Bear Island. On the ^^th they came in the 80th 
degree of latitude to another formerly unknown land, which 
they believed to be connected with Greenland. It was in fact 
the large group of islands, which afterwards obtained the name 
Spitzbergen. There were found here on a small island the 
eggs of a species of goose — rotgansen,'^ which comes yearly 
to Holland in great flocks, but whose breeding place was 
before unknown. With reference to this, De Veer says that 
it is finally proved that this goose is not, as has been hitherto 
supposed, propagated in Scotland by the goose laying her eggs 
from the branches of trees overhanging the water, the eggs 

schepen ende tgelt van den laude, zonde begeren te verzoeken, dat men 
dezelve aventuriers de reijse gevonden ende gedaen hebbende, daervan 
brengende goet ende geloofflijck beschijt, tot liaer luijder wedercomste, 
zal vereeren mette soniine van vijff en twintich duysent gulden eens. 
Item daar enboven accorderen den vrijdom voor twee jaren van convoyen 
der goederen die zij uit dese landen naer China ofii Japan zullen transpor- 
teren, ende noch vrijdom veer den tyd van acht jaren van te goederen die 
zij uit China ofte .japan in dese landen sullen bringen. Waerop gead- 
viseert wesende hebben de Gedeputeerde van d'andere provincien hen 
daarmede geconformeert, die van Seelant opt welbehagen van heure 
principalen, maer die van Utrecht hebben verclart niet te consenteren 
in de vereeringe van XXV^' £. 

1 Every Polar traveller has at one time or other made the same or a 
similar mistake. In 1861, for instance, a boat party, of whom I was one, 
thought that they saw clearly sailors in sou'-westers and with white shirt- 
sleeves building a cairn on a point which appeared to be at no great 
distance. But the cairn was found to be a very distant mountain, the 
shirt-sleeves were formed of snow-fields, the sou'-westers of pointed cliffs, 
and the motion arose from oscillatory changes in the atmospheric strata. 

- Undoubtedly Anser bernicla, which is common on the west coast of 
Spitzbergen. The Dutch name ought neither to be translated red goose, as 
some Englishmen have done, nor confounded with rotrjes. 




being broken in pieces against the surface of the water, and 
the newly hatched young immediately swimming about. 

After an unsuccessful attempt had been made to sail to the 
north of Spitzbergen the vessels proceeded southwards along the 
west coast/ and on the ^^^^ July came again to Bear Island. 
Here the vessels parted company, Barents sailing eastwards 
towards Novaya Zemlya, Rijp northwards towards the east 
coast of Spitzbergen. On the ph July, Barents reached the 
west coast of Novaya Zemlya in latitude 73° 20' North. On 


From De Veer. 

the -th July, no further advance could be made for ice, which 
still lay close to the shore. During the stay here there were 
several adventures with bears, all of which came off successfully. 
In consequence of ice obstacles their progress was exceedingly 
slow, so that it was not until the f^th August that they reached 
the Orange Islands. The following day several of the crew 
ascended a high mountain, from which they saw open water 
on the other side of an island. As glad at the sight of the 

^ See the copy of Barents' own map with his course laid down upon it, 
which is to be found in Pontanus, Rerum et urhis Amstelodamensium 
H'lstoria (Amst. 1611), and is annexed to this woriv in photolithographic 



(Closely agreeing with Barents' own original Map, 1598) 

AMST. 1611. 


sea as the ten thousand under Xenophon, they rushed back 
to the vessel to give Barents the important news. He now 
did all he could to pass the north extremity of Novaya Zemlya. 
He was successful in doing so, and on the .^Jst a haven, situated 
in about the latitude of 76° North, was reached with great 
difficulty, but all attempts to sail eastwards from it were 
unsuccessful. Finally, on the o^^^-r Barents determined to 
return to Holland. 

Now, however, it was too late. The haven was blocked with 
drift-ice, which was in constant motion, several times pressed 
the vessel high up between the pieces of ice, and finally broke 
the rudder in pieces. It was now evident that it would be 
necessary to winter, and for this purpose the requisite tools, 
household articles, and provisions were landed and men sent 
out to examine the neighbourhood. Reindeer tracks were seen, 
and, Avhat was more important, there were found on the beach 
large tree-stems with their roots still adherinof, and other wood 
which the marine currents had drifted to this otherwise com- 
pletely woodless region. The drift-wood was collected in large 
heaps that it might not be buried under the snow in winter. 
A place was chosen for a house, and the Dutch began to draw 
timber to the place. The openings in the drift-ice were on 
the j|th September covered with a crust of ice two inches thick, 
but on the 25th s^t. the ice was again somewhat broken up, which 
however was of no advantage to the imprisoned, because their 
vessel was forced up so high on a block of ground ice that 
it could not be got off. Bears were hunted almost daily. They 
were very bold and sometimes came on board the vessel. On 
the '|th October all ice was driven off as far as the eye could 
see, but the vessel still lay motionless on the blocks of ground 
ice. Round these the ice closed in again, to break up anew 
at a greater or less distance from the beach. On the !,?^'|^''? there 

o 22nd Feb. 

was still much open water visible from the beach, and on the 
^^th and '|th March, the sea appears to have been in one 
direction completely free of ice. 

On the 2-^st October, the crew began to remove into the house, 
■where they afterwards passed the winter 1596—97 with many 
sufferings, dangers, difficulties, and privations which are de- 
scribed in De Veer's work. The crew, however, never lost 
courage, which undoubtedly was a principal cause of most of 
them being saved. The house was built on the north-east side 
of Novaya Zemlya, on the shore of Barents Ice Haven. It 
was situated far to the north of any other place where men 
had previously passed the winter. The land and its animal 
life was unknown, the hard frozen, almost rock-fast and yet 
continually moving ice-covering, with which the sea was 




bound, was something quite novel, as also were the effects which 
long continued and severe cold exerts on animate and inanimate 
objects. Before the attempt was made it was not considered 
at all certain that men could actually endure the severe cold 
of the highest north and the winter night three or four months 
long. No wonder therefore that the skill and undaunted 
resolution of the Dutch Polar explorers aroused unmingled 
admiration among all civilised nations, and that the narrative 
of their winterino: was received with unbounded interest and 


From De Veer. 

formed the subject of innumerable writings and reproductions 
both in prose and verse in almost all civilised languages. Only 
a few facts from the journal of the wintering need therefore 
be given here. 

On the jth November the sun disappeared, and was again 
visible on the ^^l^.- These dates have caused scientific men 
much perplexity, because in latitude 76° North, the upper edge 
of the sun ought to have ceased to be visible when the sun's 
south declination in autumn became greater than 13°,^ and 
to have again become visible when the declination again became 
less than that figure ; that is so say, the sun ought to have 
been seen for the last time at Barents' Ice Haven on the "-^th 

1 On tlie assumption of a horizontal refraction of about 45'. 




October, and it ouglit to have appeared again there on the "th 
February. It has been supposed that the deviation arose from 
sc»me considerable error in counting the days, but this was 
unanimously denied by the crew who wintered.^ The bears 
disappeared and reappeared with the sun. Instead, foxes came 
during winter to the building, and were caught for food in 
numbers, many on the roof of the house. In order to pass 
the time and keep up their courage, the Dutch sometimes had 


From De Bry. 

entertainments, at which the cheerfulness of the partakers had 
to make up for the meagreness of the fare. After the return 
of the sun the bears again came very close, so that there was 

1 See on tliis point De Veer, leaf 25 and an unpaged leaf between pages 
30 and 31 in Blavii Atlas Major, torn. i. That a mistake occurred in the 
date is not possible, because the latitude was determined by solar observa- 
tions on the 29th (19th) February, the 21st (11th) and 31st (21st) March 
(see De Veer, 1. 27). Besides, at the correct date, the 3rd February (24th 
January), a conjunction of Jupiter and the moon was observed, whereby 
the difference of longitude between Ice Haven and Venice was determined 
to be 75^ However erroneous this determination may be, it shows, 
however, that the date was correct. 


a number of hunting adventures with them, all of which came 
off successfully. Several bears made themselves at home in 
the vessel abandoned by the crew, casting everything about, 
and broke up the hatch of the kitchen, covered as it was with 
deep snow. An attempt to eat bear's liver resulted in those 
that ate of it becoming very ill, and after recovery renewing 
their skin over the whole body. Once during severe cold, 
when pitcoal was used to warm the building, all the men in 
it were like to have died of the fumes. On one or two occa- 
sions, for instance on the |th February, so much snow had 
collected outside the door, that it was necessary to go out by the 
chimney. For the preservation of their health the Dutch often 
took a vapour bath in a barrel fitted up for the purpose. 

On the - ^^ !^''^n the first small birds were seen, and on the -th 

27ili April ' 15 

May Barents declared that if the vessel were not got off before 
the end of the month, they should return in boats, which were 
therefore immediately got ready. This was, however, attended 
with great difficulty, because most of the crew had during the 
course of the winter become exceedingly weak, evidently from 
scurvy. After the equipment of the boats had been completed 
and they had been properly laden with provisions, the Dutch at 
last started on the ~ June. 


A man had died on the ^fthi^.- At the beginning of the boat 
voyage Barents himself was very ill, and six days after, on the 
|?th June, he died, while resting with his companions on a 
large floe, being compelled to do so by the drift-ice. On the 
same day one of the crew died, and on the '|th July another. 

On the ^iT^ui^ the returning Arctic explorers at St. Lawrens' 
Bay fell in with two vessels manned by Russian hunters, 
whose acquaintance the Dutchmen had made the year before, 
and who now received them with great friendliness and pity for 
their sufferings. They continued their voyage in their small 
open boats, and all arrived in good health and spirits at Kola, 
where they were received with festivities by the inhabitants. 
It gave them still greater joy to meet here Jan Cornelisz. Rijp, 
from whom they had parted at Bear Island the preceding year, 
and of whose voyage we know only that he intended to sail up 
along the east coast of Spitzbergen, and that, when this was 
found to be impossible, he returned home the same autumn. 

After the two boats, in which Barents' companions had 
travelled with so many dangers and difficulties from their winter 
haven to Russian Lapland, had been left in the merchant's yard^ 

^ Built along with a weigh-house intended for the Norwegians in 1582 
by the first vojvode in Kola {Hamel, p. 66). In Pontanus (JRerum ct 
urbis Amstelodamensium Historia, Amsterodami, 1611, p. 142), there is 
a drawing of the inner yard of this house, and of the reception of 
shipwrecked men there. 




at Kola, as a memorial of tlie journey — the first memorial of 
a, Polar expedition was thus raised at Kola ! — they went on 
board Rijp's vessel, and sailed in it to Holland, arriving there 
the '--ii—. Sixteen men had left Holland with Barents, 
twelve men returned in safety to their native land, and among 
them Jacob van Heemskerk, a man who during the whole 
voyage had played a prominent part, and afterwards lived long 
enough to see the time when the Dutch were a match at sea 


Born in 1567 at Amsterdam, died in 1607 at Gibraltar. 
After a contemporary engraving by N. de Clerck. 

for the Spaniards. For he fell as commander of the Dutch fleet 
which defeated the Spanish at Gibraltar on April 25, 1607. 

During Barents' third voyage Bear Island and Spitzbergen 
were discovered, and the natural conditions of the high northern 
regions during winter first became known. On the other 
hand, the unfortunate issue of the maritime expeditions sent 
out from Holland appears to have completely deterred from 



further attempts to find a north-eastern commercial route to 
China and Japan, and this route was also now less necessary, 
as Houtman returned with the first Dutch fleet from the East 
Indies the same year that Barents' companions came back from 
their wintering. The problem was therefore seriously taken up 
anew for the first time during the present century ; though 
during the intervening period attempts to solve it were not 
wholly wanting. 

For the desire to extend the White Sea trade to Siberia, 
and jealousy of the companies that had known how to procure 
for themselves a monopoly of the lucrative commerce with 
eastern Asia, still led various merchants now and then during 
the seventeenth century to send out vessels to try whether it 
was possible to penetrate beyond Novaya Zemlya. I shall 
confine myself here to an enumeration of the most important 
of these undertakings, with the necessary bibliographical 

1608. Heney Hudson, during his second voyage, landed on 
Novaya Zemlya at Karmakul Bay and other places, but did not 
succeed in his attempt to sail further to the east, north of this 
island. He made the voyage on account of English merchants. 
A narrative of it is to be found in Purchas (iii. p. 574), and an 
excellent critical collection of all the original documents 
relating to Hudson's life and voyages in G. M. Asher's 
Henry Hudson the Navigator, London, 1860 (Works issued by 
the Hakluyt Society, No. 26). It was west of the Atlantic 
that Hudson earned the laurels which gave him for all time so 
prominent a place in the history of navigation, and the sea 
there also became his grave. Eastwards he did not penetrate 
so far as his predecessors. I cannot therefore here find room 
for any account of his voyage to Novaya Zemlya ; it may 
only be mentioned that two of his crew on the morning 
of the ||th of June, 1608, in 75° N.L., saw a mermaid. The 
following statement is taken from his journal : " This morning 
one of the crew, as he looked over the side, saw a mermaid. 
Another of his comrades came up at his call. She was 
close to the vessel's side, looking steadily at the men. Soon 
after she was thrown down by a wave. From the middle 
upwards her back and breast were like a woman's. Her body 
was as large as a man's, her skin very white, and long dark 
hair hung down her back. When she dived, they saw her 
tail, which resembled that of a dolphin and was spotted like 
a mackerel's. The names of the men who saw her Avere 
Thomas Hiller and Robert Rayner." It was probably a curious 
seal that gave occasion to this version of the old yarn. 

1611. William Gourdon, with the title "appointed chief 
pilote for discoverie to Ob," brought this year a cargo of goods 


to Pustosersk, and sailed thence to Novaya Zemlya. At the 
mouth of the Petchora he saw 2-i lodjas, manned with ten to 
16 men each, bound for " Mangansei " east of Ob {Purchas, iii. 
pp. 580, 53-i). While attempting to get further information 
regarding these voyages to Siberia, the Muscovy Company's 
envoy learned that, at least as a rule, the question was only of 
carrying goods by sea to the bottom of Kara Bay, whence they 
were transported overland to Ob, advantage being taken of two 
small rivers and a lake (Purchas, iii. p. 539). But other 
accounts lead us to infer that the Russian lodjas actually sailed 
to Ob, even through Matotschkin Schar, as appears from 
statements in Piirchas (iii. pp. 804, 805). At the same place 
we find the statement, already quoted, of a Russian, who in 
1584 offered for fifty roubles to act as guide overland from the 
Petchora to the Ob, that a West-European ship was wrecked 
at the mouth of the Ob, and its crew killed by the Samoyeds 
who lived there. The Russian also said that it was an esksj 
matter to sail from Vaygats to the mouth of the Ob. 

1612. The whaling captain Jan Cornelisz. van Hoorx 
endeavoured to sail north of Novaya Zemlya towards the east, 
but met with ice in 77° N.L., which compelled him to return 
(Witsen, p. 906). 

1625. CoRNELis B(3SMAN, at the instance of the Northern 
Company of the Netherlands, with a vessel of 90 tons, manned 
by 24 men, and provisioned for two and a half years, passed 
through Yugor Schar eastwards, but fell in with so much ice in 
the Kara Sea that he was compelled to seek for a harbour in 
that sound. There he waited for more favourable conditions, 
but was finally compelled by storm and ice to return with his 
object unaccomplished. (S. Mliller, Geschiedenis der Noardsdie. 
Compagnie, Utrecht, 1874, p. 185.) 

1653.^ This year a Danish expedition was sent out to the 
North-east. An account of the voyage was given by De la 
MARTiNlfeRE, surgeon to the expedition, in a work published for 
the first time at Paris in 1671, with the following title : Voyage 
desPais Septentrionaux. Dans lequel se void les moiurs, manUre de 
vivre, & superstitions des NorweguienSy Lappons, Kiloppes, Boran- 
diens, Syheriens, Samojedes, Zemhliens, ct Islandois, enrichi ile 
plusieurs figures.'^ This work afterwards attained a considerable 

^ The year is incorrectly given as 16-47 by F. von Adelung {Kritisch- 
Litterurische Uehersicht, &c.). 

- The following editions are enumerated : four French, Paris, 1671, 1672, 
1676, and Amsterdam, 1708; six German, Hamburg, 1675, Leipzig, 170.3, 
1706, 1710, 1711, and 1718; one Latin, Gliickstadt, 1675; two Dutch, 
Amsterdam, 1681 and 1685 ; one Italian, printed in Conte Aurelio degli 
Anzi's II Genio Vagnntf, Parma, 1691 ; two Euglish, one printed separately 
in 1706, the other in Harris, Xav'ujanthim atque Itineraniium Bill., 3rd 
edition. London, 1744-48, Vol. II. p. 457. 




circulation, doubtless in consequence of ]\Iartiniere's easy style, 
contrasting so strongly with the common dry ship's-log manner, 
and the large number of wonderful stories he narrates, without 
the least regard to truth or probability. He is the MliQchhausen 
of the North-east voyages. The Xorse peasants, for instance, are 
said to be all slaves to the nobles, who have sovereign power 
over their property, tyrannise over their inferiors, and are prone 
to insurrection. The elks are said to be hable to faUing sickness, 
and therefore fall down in convulsions when they are hunted — 
hence their name " eleend." Sailors are said to have purchased 
on the north- \\-est coast of Norway for ten crowns and a pound 

^^^etiies 7a.7-iari£S 

DE lA martini£rf,'s map. 

of tobacco three knots of wind from the Lapps living there, who 
were all magicians ; when the first knot was loosed, a gentle 
breeze arose, the second gave a strong gale, the third a storm, 
during which the vessel was in danger of being wrecked.^ 
Novaya Zemlya is stated to be inhabited by a peculiar tribe, 
" the Zembliens," of whom two were taken prisoners and carried 
to Copenhagen. De la Martiniere also got the head of a walrus, 
which had been harpooned with great difficulty ; the animal was 
drawn as a fish with a long horn projecting from its head. As 

^ The story of the wind knots is taken from Olaus Magnus, De gentibus 
yepieutrionalibits, Rome, 1555, p. 119. There a drawing of the appearance 
of the knots is also given. 


a specimen of the birds of Novaya Zemlya a penguin was 
drawn and described, and finally the work closed with a rectifi- 
cation of tlie map of the Polar Eegions, which according to the 
author's ideas ought to be as represented below. I refer to these 
absurdities, because the account of Martiniere's voyage exerted 
no little influence on the older writings relating to the Arctic 

1664 and 1668. A whaling captain, Willem de Vlamingh, 
sailed in 1664 round the northern extremity of Novaya Zemlya 
to Barents' winter quarters, and thence eastwards, where one 
of his men thought he saw land (" Jelmert-landt," Witsen, 
p. 902).^ The same Vlamingh says that in 1668 he discovered, 
twenty-five miles JSI.N.E. of Kolgujev, a new island three to four 
miles in circumference. This island, which was described in 
great detail, and named by the discoverer " Witsen's Island," 
has not since been seen again ( Witsen, p. 923). 

1666. In this year some vessels were sent from the Nether- 
lands to the north-east. There were Jews among the owners 
and the seafarers were furnished with letters in Hebrew, because 
it was believed that they would come in contact with some of 
the lost tribes of Israel. Nothing further appears to have been 
known of the voyage, which undoubtedly was without result. 
[Witsen, ^. W2.) 

1675. A Dutch whaling captain, Cornelis Piersz. Snob- 
BERGER, visited Novaya Zemlya, on whose coast he killed three 
whales and six hundred walruses. He would probably have 
got still more " fish," if he had not in 72:|° found an ore, which 
appeared to contain silver, gold, and other metals. Instead of 
blubber the skipper now loaded ore, which in his opinion was 
precious, but afterwards on being tested at home was found to 
be valueless {Witsen,^. 918). 

17th Century, year not stated. Shipmaster CoRNELlS ROULE 
is said to have sailed in the longitude of Novaya Zemlya to 84|° 
or 85° N.L. and there discovered a fjord-land, along which he 
sailed ten miles. Beyond that a large open sea was seen. From 
a high mountain situated on a sound, in which he rode, it 
appeared that he might sail one or two watches further to the 
north. He found there large numbers of birds, which w^ere 
exceedingly tame [Witsen, p. 920). If we take some degrees 
from the latitude stated, which is perhaps not very unreason- 
able in dealing with the narratives of old whalers, which 
have passed through two or three hands, Roule may, as far 
back as two hundred years ago, have reached Franz-Josefs 
Land, and sailed along its coast to a very high latitude for 
tliose regions. 

1676. Wood and Flawes were sent out from_ England by 

^ Compare page 156. 


Charles II. to sail by the north-east passage to the Pacific. For 
this purpose the EngUsh Admiralty fitted out a vessel, the 
Speedivell, while " as all exploratory voyages are exposed to the 
possibility of disaster," another small ship, the Prosperous, was 
purchased and handed over to the expedition by private gentle- 
men.^ The command of the first vessel was given to Captain 
Wood, the chief promoter of the undertaking, and the other 
vessel was commanded by Captain Flawes. The voyage was 
completely without result, as Wood did not jjenetrate so far, 
either to the north or east, as his predecessors or as the 
whalers, who appear to have at that time frequently visited 
North Novaya Zemlya. Wood had previously accompanied Sir 
John Narborough during a voyage through the dangerous 
Magellan Straits, in the course of which he became known 
as a bold and skilful seaman, but he not only wanted experi- 
ence in sailing amongst ice, but also the endurance and the 
coolness that are required for voyages in the high north. He 
thereby showed himself to be quite unfit for the command 
which he undertook. Before his departure he was unreasi:)n- 
ably certain of success ; with the first encounter with ice his 
self-reliance gave way entirely ; and when his vessel was 
wrecked on the coast of Novaya Zemlya, he knew no other way 
to keep up the courage of his men and prevent mutiny than 
to send the brandy bottle round.- Finally after his return 
he made Barents and other distinguished seafarers in the 
Arctic Regions answerable for all the skipper tales collected 
from quite other quarters, which he before his departure held 
to be proved undoubtedly true. This voyage would therefore 
not have been referred to here, if it had not been preceded and 
followed by lively discussions regarding the fitness of the Polar 
Sea for navigation, during which at least a portion of the 
experience which Dutch and English whalers had gained of the 
state of the ice between Greenland and Novaya Zemlya was 
rescued from oblivion, though unfortunately almost exclusively 
in the form of unconfirmed statements of very high latitudes, 
which had been occasionally reached. Three papers mainly led 
to Wood's voyage. These were : — 

1. A letter, inserted in the Transactions of the Royal Society,^ 

^ These were James Duke of York, Lord Berkley, Sir John Williamson; 
Sir John Bankes, Mr. Samuel Peeps?, Captain Herbert, Mr. Dupey, and Mr. 
Hoopgood (Harris, Nav. Bihl., vol. ii. p. 453). 

^ "All I could do in this exigency was to let the brandy-bottle go 
round, which kept them allways fox'd, till the 8th July Captain Flawes 
came so seasonably to our relief " (Barrow, A Chronological Htstoi-y of 
Voyages into the Arctic Regions. London, 1818, p. 268). 

^ "A letter, not long since written to the Publisher by an Experienced 
person residing at Amsterdam," etc. {Philosophical Transactions, vol. ix. 
p. 3. London, 1674). 


on the state of Novaya Zemlya, said to be founded on discoveries 
which had been made at the express command of the Czar. 
The letter was accompanied by a map, drawn by an artist 
named Panelapoetski, who sent it from Moscow as a present 
to the writer. The Kara Sea is said to be a freshwater inland 
lake which freezes strongly in winter, and it is stated that 
according to the unanimous accounts of the Samoyeds and 
Tartars it is quite possible to sail north of Novaya Zemlya to 

2. Another letter was inserted in the Traiisactions of the Royal 
Society,^ in which the statement in the former letter on the 
connection of Novaya Zemlya with the mainland is repeated, 
and the difficulties which Barents met with ascribed to the 
circumstance that he sailed too near the land, along which the 
sea is often frozen; some miles from the shore, on the other 
hand, it never freezes, even at the Pole, unless occasionally. 
It is also said that some Amsterdam merchants sailed more 
than a hundred leagues eastward of Novaya Zemlya, and on 
that account petitioned the States-Geueral for privileges.^ 
However, in consequence of opposition from the Dutch East 
India Company, their petition was not granted, on which the 
merchants turned to Denmark. Here their proposal was 
immediately received with favour. Two vessels were fitted out, 
but instead of sailing to Japan, they went to Spitzbergen to 
the whale-fishing. It is further stated in the letter that it 
would not be unadvisable to let some persons live for a time 
with the Samoyeds, in order to find out what they knew of the 
matter, and that, when a more complete knowledge of the 
navigable waters was acquired, the whole voyage from England 
to Japan might be accomplished in five or six weeks. Were a 

^ "A eummary Relation of what hath been hitherto discovered in the 
matter of the North-Eaet passage ; communicated by a good Hand" {Phil. 
Trans., vol. x. p. 417. London, 1675). 

^ The time when the voyage was made is not stated in the letter quoted. 
Harris says that he with great difficulty ascertained the year of the 
successful voyage to the eastward to be 1670. He says further that the 
persons who gave him this information also stated that, at the time when 
tliis petition was given in to the States-General, it was also asserted that 
there was no difficulty in sailing northwards from Spitzbergen (Greenland), 
and that many Dutch vessels had actually done it. To confirm this state- 
ment the merchants proposed that the logs of the Spitzliergen fleet for the 
year 1655 should be examined. This was done. In seven of them it was 
found recorded that the vessels had sailed to 79° N. L. Three other logs 
agreed in the point that on the 1st August, 1655, 8S° 56' was ohserved. The 
sea here was open and the swell heavy (Harris, Nav. B'lhl., ii. p. 453). J. R. 
Forster (Gesckichte der Entdeckungenund Sch'iffrfahrten tin Norden, Frank- 
furt a. d. Oder, 1874) appears to place the voyage eastward of Novaya 
Zemlya in the period before 1614. It is, however, probable that the voyage 
in question is Vlaiiiingh's remarkable one in 1664, or that in 16G6, of wliich 
I have already given an account. 


wintering necessary, it would not be attended with any danger, 
if, instead of a house of thick planks standing by itself, earth 
huts were used. 

3. A pamphlet, whose contents are given in the long and 
peculiar title : "A brief Discourse of a Passage by the North- 
Pole to Japan, China, etc. Pleaded by Three Experiments : 
and Answers to all Objections that can be urged against a 
Passage that way. As : 1. By a Navigation from Amsterdam 
into the North-Pole, and two Degrees beyond it. 2. By a 
Navigation from Japan towards the North-Pole. 3. By an 
Experiment made by the Czar of Muscovy, whereby it appears, 
that to the Northwards of Nova Zembla is a free and open Sea 
as far as Japan, China, etc. With a Map of all the Discovered 
Lands neerest to the Pole. By Joseph Moxon, Hydrographer 
to the King's most Exellent Majesty. London, 1674." 

The most remarkable passage in this scarce little book is the 
following : — 

" Being about twenty-two years ago in Amsterdam, I 
went into a drinking-house to drink a cup of beer for my thirst, 
and sitting by the public fire, among several people, there 
happened a seaman to come in, who, seeing a friend of his 
there, whom he knew went in the Greenland voyage, wondered 
to see him, because it was not yet time for the Greenland fleet 
to come home, and asked him what accident brought him home 
so soon ; his friend (who was the steer-man aforsaid in a 
Greenland ship that summer) told him, that their ship went 
not out to fish that summer, but only to take in the lading of 
the w'hole fleet, to bring it to an early market. But, said he, 
before the fleet had caught fish enough to lade us, we, by order 
of the Greenland Company, sailed unto the north pole and back 
again. Whereupon (his relation being novel to me) I entered 
into discourse with him, and seemed to question the truth of 
what he said ; but he did ensure me it was true, and that the 
ship was then in Amsterdam, and many of the seamen 
belonging to her to justify the truth of it ; and told me, moreover, 
that they had sailed two degrees beyond the pole, I asked him 
if they found no land or islands about the pole ? He told me. 
No, they saw no ice ; I asked him what weather they_ had 
there ? He told me fine warm weather, such as was at 
Amsterdam in the summer time and as hot." ^ 

^ In more recent times the whalers have been more modest in their 
statements about high northern latitudes reached. Thus a Dutchman 
who had gone whale-fishjng for twenty-two years, at an accidental 
meeting with Tschitschagoflf in Bell Sound in the year 1766, stated among 
other things that he himself had once been in 81°, but that he heard that 
other whalers liad been in 83° and had seen land over the ice. He had 
seen the east coast of Greenland (Spitzbergen) only once in 75° N, L. 


In additiou to these stories there were several contributions 
to a solution of the problem, which Wood himself collected, as 
a statement by Captain Goulden, who had made thirty voyages 
to Spitzbergen, that two Dutchmen had penetrated eastward 
of that group of islands to 89" N.L. ; the observation that 
on the coast of Corea whales had been caught with European 
harpoons in them;^ and that driftwood eaten to the heart 
by the sea-worm was found on the coasts of the Polar 
lands, &C.2 

When Wood failed, he abandoned the views he had before 
maintained, declaring that the statements on which he had 
founded his plans were downright lies and delusions. But the 
belief in a polar sea that is occasionally navigable is not yet 
given up. It has since then been maintained by such men as 
Daines Baerington,3 Ferdinand von Wrangel, Augustus 
Peteemann,'^ and others. Along with nearly all Polar travellers 
of the present day, I had long been of an opposite opinion, 
beheving the Polar Sea to be constantly covered with im- 
penetrable masses of ice, continuous or broken up, but I have 
come to entertain other views since in the course of two 

(Herrn von Tschitschagoff Russisch-kaiserlichen Admirals Reise nach dem, St. Petersburg, 1793, p. 83). Dutch shipmasters too, who in the 
beginning of the seventeenth century penetrated north of Spitzbergen to 
82°, said that they had thence seen land towards the north (Milller, 
Geschiedenis der Noordsche Compagnie, p. 180). 

^ Witsen states, p. 43, that he had conversed with a Dutch seaman, 
Benedictus Klerk, who had formerly served on board a whaler, and after- 
wards been a prisoner in Corea. He had asserted that in whales that were 
killed on the coast of that country he had found Dutch harpoons. The 
Dutch then carried on whale-fishing only in the north part of the Atlantic. 
The ^»f7 thus shows that whales can swim from one ocean to the other. 
As we know that these colossal inhabitants of the Polar Sea do not swim 
from one ice-ocean to the other across the equator, this observation must 
be considered very important, especially at a time when the question 
whether Asia and America are connected across the Pole was yet unsettled. 
Witsen also enumerates, at p. 900, several occasions on which stone 
harpoons were found in the skins of whales caught in the North 
Atlantic, These harpoons, however, may as well be derived from the 
wild races, unacquainted with iron, at Davis Strait, as from tribes living 
on the north part of the Pacific. At Kamschatka, too, long before whale- 
fishing by Europeans began in Behring's Sea, harpoons marked with Latin 
letters were found in whales (Steller, Besclireihung von dem Lande 
Kamtschatka, Frankfurt und Leipzig, 1774, p. 102). 

2 The account of Wood's voyage was printed in London in 1694 by 
Smith and Walford, printers to the Royal Society (according to a state- 
ment by Barrington, The poss'ihility of approaching the North Pole asserted, 
2nd Edition, London, 1818, p. 34). I have only had an opportunity of 
seeing extracts from the account of this voyage in Harris and others. 

^ Barrington published a number of papers on this question, which are 
collected in the work whose title is given above, of which there were tv o 

■* At several places in his Mittheilungen, 1855-79. 


winterings — the first in 79° 53', that is to say, nearer the Pole 
than any other has wintered in the old world, the second in 
the neighbourhood of the Asiatic Pole of cold — I have seen that 
the sea does not fi'eeze completely, even in the immediate 
neighbourhood of land. From this I draw the conclusion that 
the sea scarcely anywhere permanently ^ freezes over where it is 
of any considerable depth, and far from land. If this be the 
case, there is nothing unreasonable in the old accounts, and 
what has happened once we may expect to happen another time. 

However this may be, it is certain that the ignominious 
result of Wood's \oja,ge exerted so great a deterring influence 
from all new undertakings in the same direction, that nearly 
two hundred years elapsed before an expedition was again sent 
out with the distinctly declared intention, which was afterwards 
disavowed, of achieving a north-east passage. This was the 
famous Austrian expedition of Payer and Weyprecht in 
1872-74, which failed indeed in penetrating far to the east- 
ward, but which in any case formed an epoch in the history of 
Arctic exploration by the discovery of Franz- Josef's Land 
and by many valuable researches on the natural conditions 
of the Polar lands. Considered as a North-east voyage, this 
expedition was the immediate predecessor of that of the Vega. 
It is so well known through numerous works recently published, 
and above all by Payer's spirited narrative, that I need not go 
into further detail regarding it. 

But if the North-east voyages proper thus almost entirely 
ceased during the long interval between Wood's and Payer's 
voyages, a large number of other journeys for the purpose of 
research and hunting were instead carried out during this 
period, through which we obtained tlie first knowledge founded 

^ That tliin sheets of ice are formed in clear and cahu weather, even in 
the open sea and over great depths, was observed several times during the 
expedition of 1868. But when we consider that salt water has no 
maximum of density situated above the freezing-point, that ice is a bad 
conductor of heat, and that the clear, newly-formed ice is soon covered by 
a layer of snow which hinders radiation, it appears to me to be improbable 
that the ice-covering at deep, open places can become so thick that it is 
not broken up even by a moderate storm. Even the shallow harbour at 
Mussel Bay first froze permanently in the beginning of February, and in 
the end of January the swell in the harbour was so heavy, that all the 
three vessels of the Swedish Expedition were in danger of being wrecked 
— in consequence of the tremendous sea in SO'^ the end of January ! 
The sea must then have been open very far to the north-west. On the 
west coast of Spitzbergen the sea in winter is seldom completely frozen 
within sight of land. Even at Barents' winter haven on the north-east 
coast of Novaya Zemlya, the sea during the coldest season of the year was 
often free of ice, and Hudson's statement, "that it is not surprising that 
the navigator falls in with so much ice in the North Atlantic, when there 
>ire so many sounds and bays on Spitzbergen," shows that even he did not 
believe in any ice being formed in the open sea. 


on actual observations of the natural conditions of Novaya 
Zemlya and the Kara Sea. Of these voyages, mainly made by 
Eussians and Scandinavians, I shall give an account in the next 
chapter. It was these that prepared the way for the success 
which we at last achieved. 


The North-oast Voyages of the Russians and Norwegians — Rodivan 
Ivanov, 1690— the great Northern Expedition, 1734-37— The sup- 
posed richness in metals of Novaya Zemlya — Juschkov, 1757 — Savva 
Loschkin, 1760— Eossmuislov, 1768— Lasarev, 1819— Liitke, 1821-24— 
Ivanov, 1822-28— Pachtussov, 1832-35- Von Baer, 1837— Zivolka and 
Moissejev, 1838-39— Von Krusenstern, 1860-62— The Origin and His- 
.tory of the Polar Sea Hunting— Carlsen, 1868— Ed. Johannesen, 1869- 
70--Ulve, Mack, and Quale, 1870— Mack, 1871— Discovery of the 
Relics of Barents' wintering — Tobiesen's wintering, 1872-73 — The 
Swedish Expeditions, 1875 and 1876 — Wiggins, 1876 — Later Voyages 
to and from the Yenisej. 

From what I have stated above it follows that the coast 
population of North Russia carried on an active navigation on 
the Polar Sea long before the English and the Dutch, and that 
commercial expeditions were often undertaken from the White 
Sea and the Petchora to the Ob and the Yenisej, sometimes 
wholly by sea round Yalmal, but most frequently partly by sea and 
partly by land transport over that peninsula. In the latter case 
the Russians went to work in the following way ; they first sailed 
through Yugor Straits, and over the southern part of the Kara 
Sea to the mouth of the Mutnaja, a river debouching on Yalmal ; 
they then rowed or towed the boats up the river and over two 
lakes to a ridge about 350 metres broad, which forms the 
watershed on Yalmal between the rivers running west and those 
running east ; over this ridge the boats and the goods were 
dragged to another lake, Selennoe, from which they were finally 
carried down the River Selennaja to the Gulf of Obi.^ 

These and similar accounts were collected with great difficulty, 
and not without danger, by the Muscovy Company's envoys ; but 

1 Compare : " The names of the places that the Russes sayle by, from 
Pechorskoie Zauorot to Mongozey " {Purrhas, iii. p. 539) : "The voyage of 
Master Josias Logan to Pechora, and his wintering there with Master 
William Pursglove and Marmaduke Wilson, Anno 1611 " {loc. cit. p. 541) : 
" Extracts taken out of two letters of Josias Logan from Pechora, to Master 
Hakluyt, Prebend of Westminster" {he. cit. p. 546) : "Other obseruations 
of the sayd William Pursglove " {loc. cit. p. 550). The last paper contains 
good information regarding the Obi, Tas, Yenisej, Pjasina, Chatanga, 
and Lena. 


among the accounts that have been thus preserved we do not 
find a single sketch of any special voyage, on the ground of 
which we could place a Russian name beside that of Willoughby, 
Burrough, Pet and Barents in the older history of the North- 
East Passage. The historical sources of Russia too must be 
similarly incomplete in this respect, to j l^dge from the otherwise 
instructive historical introduction to Liitke's voyage. Gallant 
seamen, but no Hakluyt, were born during the sixteenth and 
seventeenth century on the shores of the White Sea, and 
therefore the names of these seamen and the story of their 
voyages have long since fallen into complete obscurity, excepting 
some in comparatively recent times. 

In the second edition of Witsen's great work we find, at page 
913, an account of an unsuccessful hunting voyage to the Kara 
Sea, undertaken in 1690, that is to say, at a time when voyages 
between the White Sea and the Obi and Yenisej were on the 
point of ceasing completely. The account was drawn up by 
Witsen from an oral communication by one of the shipwrecked 
men, Rodivan Ivanov, who was for several years mate on a 
Russian vessel, employed in seal-fishing on the coast of Novaya 
Zemlya and Vaygats Island. 

On the — September this Rodivan Ivanov suffered ship- 
wreck with two vessels on Serapoa Koska (Serapov's Bank,) 
probably situated in the Southern part of the Kara Sea. The 
ice was thrown up here in winter into lofty ice-casts with 
such a crashing noise that "the world was believed to be coming 
to an end," and at high water with a strong breeze the whole 
island was submerged with the exception of some knolls. On 
one of these the winter house was erected. It was built of clay, 
which was kneaded with the blood and hair of the seal and 
walrus. This mixture hardened to a solid mass, of which the 
walls were built with the help of boards from the vessel. 
The house thus afforded good protection not only from cold and 
bad weather, but also from bears. A furnace was also built 
inside the house and fired with driftwood collected on the beach. 
Train oil from the captured animals was used for lighting. 
There wintered here fifteen men in all, of whom eleven died 
of scurvy. Want of exercise perhaps mainly conduced to bring 
on this disease. For most of them did not leave the house 
durino" the winter night, five weeks long. Those were most 
healthy who had most exercise, as, for instance, the mate, who 
was the youngest among the crew, and therefore had to go round 
the island to collect wood. Another cause of the great mortality 
was the total want of provisions brought from home. For the 
first eio-ht days their food consisted of seaweed dredged up from 
the bottom of the sea, with which some meal was mixed. After- 
wards they ate the flesh of the seal and walrus, and of the Polar 


bear and the fox. The flesh of the bear and the walrus, how- 
ever, was considered unclean,^ on which account it was eaten 
only in case of necessity, and the flesh of the fox had an un- 
pleasant flavour. Sometimes the want of food was so great 
that they were compelled to eat the leather of their boots and 
furs. The number of the seals and walruses which they caught 
was so great, "that the killed animals, laid together, would 
have fonned a heap ninety fathoms in length, of the same 
breadth, and six feet high." ^ They found, besides, on the island 
a stranded whale. 

In spring Samoyeds csime from the mainland, and plundered 
the Russians of part of their catch. Probably for fear of the 
Samoyeds, the surviving hunters did not go over the ice to the 
mainland, but remained on the desert island until by a fortunate 
accident they were rescued by some of their countrymen engaged 
in a hunting exT)edition. In connection with the account of this 
voyage Witsen states that the previous year a Russian hunting 
vessel stranded east of the Ob. 

It is probable that towards the close of the sixteenth century 
the Russian hunting voyages to Novaya Zemlya had already 
fallen off considerably. The comrnercial voyages perhaps had 
long before altogether ceased. It appears as if after the com- 
plete conquest of Siberia the land route over the Ural mountains, 
formerly regarded with such superstitious feelings, was preferred, 
to the unsafe sea route across the Kara Sea, and as if the Govern- 
ment even put obstacles in the way of the latter by setting 

^ The stringent regulations regarding fasting of the Russians, especially 
the Old Believers, if they be literally observed, form an insuperable obstacle 
to the colonisation of high-northern regions, in which, to avoid scurvy, 
man requires an abundant supply of fresh flesh. Thus, undoubtedly, 
religious prejudices against certain kinds of food caused the failure of the 
colony of Old Believers which was founded in 1767 on Kolgujev Island, 
in order that its members might undisturbed use their old church books 
and cross themselves in the way they considered most proper. The 
same cause also perhaps conduced to the failure of the attempts which 
are said to have been made after the destruction of Novgorod by Ivan 
the Terrible in 1570 by fugitives from that town to found a colony on 
Novaya Zemyla (Historische Nachrichten van den Samojeden und den 
Lap2)lunderii, Riga und Mietau, 1769, p. 28). This book was tirst printed in 
French at Konigsberg in 1762. The author was Klingstedt, a Swede in 
the Russian service, who long lived at Archangel. 

2 The statement is incredible, and probably originated in some mistake. 
To form such a heap of walruses at least 50,000 animals would have been 
required, and it is certain that fifteen men could not have killed so many. 
If we assume that in the statement of the length and breadth, feet ought 
to Btand in place of fathoms, we get the still excessive number of 1,500 
to 3,000 killed animals. Probably instead of 90 we should have 9, in 
which case the heap would correspond to about 500 walruses and seals 
killed. The walrus tusks collected weighed 40 pood, which again indicates 
the capture of 150 to 200 animals. 


watches at Matvejev Island and at Yugor Straits.^ These were 
to receive payments from the hunters and merchants, and the 
regulations and exactions connected with this arrangement 
deprived the Polar Sea voyages of just that charm which had 
hitherto induced the bravest and hardiest of the population 
to devote themselves to the dangerous traffic to the Ob, and 
to the employment of hunting, in which they were exposed to 
so many dangers, and subject to so great privations. 

The circumstance to which we have referred may also be the 
reason why we do not know of a single voyage in this part 
of the Polar Sea during the period which elapsed from the 
voyage of Rodivan Ivanov to " the great Northern Expedition." 
It examined, among other parts of the widely extended north 
coast of the Russian empire, the southern portion also of the 
navigable waters here in question, in the years 1734, 35, 
under Muravjev and Paulov, and in 1736, 37 under Malygin, 
Skuratov, and Suchotin. Their main working field however did 
not lie here, but in Siberia itself ; and I shall give an account 
of their voyages in the Kara Sea further on, when I come to 
treat of the development of our knowledge of the north coast 
of Asia. Here I will only state that they actually succeeded, 
after untold exertions, in penetrating from the White Sea to the 
Ob, and that the maps of the land between that river and the 
Petchora, which are still in use, are mainly grounded on the 
work of the great northern expedition, but that the bad repute 
of the Kara Sea also arose from the difficulties to which these 
explorers were exposed, difficulties owing in no small degree 
to the defective nature of the vessels, and a number of mistakes 
which were made in connection with their equipment, the choice 
of the time of sailing, &c. 

Like all distant unknown regions, Novaya Zemlya was of old 
renowned for its richness in the noble metals. The report indeed 
has never been confirmed, and probably was occasioned only by the 
occurrence of traces of ore, and the beautiful gold-glancing film 
of pyrites with which a number of the fossils found here are 
covered ; but it has, notwithstanding, given occasion to a number 
of voyages to Novaya Zemlya, of which the first known is that 
of the mate Juschkov, in 1757. As the mate of a hunting- 
vessel he had observed the stones glittering with gold and 
silver, and he succeeded in convincing an Archangel tallow- 
merchant that they indicated great riches in the interior of 
the earth. In order to get possession of these treasures the 

1 Wifsen, p. 915. Klingstedt states that fifty soldiers with their wives 
and children were removed in 1648 to Pustosersk, and that the vojvode 
there had so large an income that in three or four years he could ac- 
cumulate 12,000 to 15,000 roubles {Historische Nachrtchten von den 
Samcjjeden, &c., p. 53). 


tallow-merchant fitted out a vessel, promising Juschkov at 
the same time a reward of 250 roubles for the discovery. 
The whole undertaking, however, led to no result, because the 
discoverer of these treasures died during the passage to 
Novaya Zemlya (Llitke, p. 70). 

Three years after, in 1760,^ a hunting mate, Sawa Losch- 
KIN, a native of Olonets, hit on the idea, which was certainly 
a correct one, that the east coast of Novaya Zemlya, which was 
never visited by hunters, ought to be richer in game than other 
parts of the island. Induced by this idea, and probably also by 
the wish to do something extraordinary, he undertook a hunting 
expedition thither. Of this expedition we know only that he 
actually succeeded in travelling round the whole island, thanks 
to the resolution which led him to spend 
on this self-imposed task two winters and 
three summers. It was proved by this 
journey that Novaya Zemlya is actually an 
island^ a fact which in the middle of last 
century w^as still doubted by many 

Even after the failure of Juschkov's 
expedition the report of the richness of 
Novaya Zemlya in metals still maintained 

■ , T ^"^ 1 "^ T 1 T- , iS-r> AMMONITE WITH GOLD LUSTRE. 

Itself, and accordmgly Lieutenant ^ Ross- From Novaya zemiy.,. 

,AIUISLOV was sent out with second mate Ammonite, altemans. 

GuBiN, the Polar Sea pilot Tschirakin, ^'- ^^"^s- 

and eleven men, to search for the sup- 
posed treasures, and at the same time to survey the unknown 
portions of the island. The vessel that was used in this Polar 
Sea voyage must have been a very remarkable one. For 
shortly before the start, leaks, which had to be stopped, were 
discovered at many different places in it, and of its power 
of sailing Rossmuislov himself says : " So long as the wind 
came from the stern the large sail helped us exceedingly well, 
but, as soon as it turned and became a head wind, we were 
compelled to hoist another smaller sail, in consequence of 
which we were driven back to the point from which we came." 
Rossmuislov appears to have been a very skilful man in his 
profession. Without meeting with any obstacle from ice but 
at all events with difficulty enough in consequence of the 
unsuitableness of the vessel, he arrived at Matotschkin Sound, 

1 According to Liitke, p. 70. Hamel, Tradeacant d. dltere, give; the 
date 1742-44. 

* Thus on the first map in an atlas published iu 1737 by the St. Peters- 
burg Academy, Novaya Zemlya is delineated as a peninsula projecting from 
Taimur Land north of the Pjasina. 

3 Properly " Mate, with the rank of Lieutenant," fi-om which we may 
conclude that Eossmuislov wanted the usual education of an officer. 





which he carefully surveyed and took soundings in. From a 
high mountain at its eastern mouth he saw on the itr-^*" the 

O 30th Aug. 

Kara Sea completely free of ice — and the way to the Yenisej 
thus open ; but his vessel was useless for further sailing. He 
therefore determined to winter at a bay named Tjalanaja Guba, 
near the eastern entrance to Matotschkin Sound. To this place 
he removed a house which some hunters had built on the sound 
farther to the west, and erected another house, the materials 
of which he had brought from home, on a headland jutting out 
into the sound a little more to the east. The latter I visited 
in 1876. The walls were then still standing, but the flat roof. 


(After a drawing by Hj. Theel. 1875.) 

loaded with earth and stones, had fallen in, as is often the case 
with .deserted wooden houses in the Polar regions. The house 
was small, and had consisted of a lobby and a room with an 
immense fireplace, and sleeping places fixed to the walls. 

On the ''';^— , Matotschkin Sound was frozen over, and some 

20th Sept.' ' 

days after the Kara Sea was covered with ice as far as the eye 
could reach. Storms from the north-east, v.-est, and north-west, 
with drifting snow of such violence prevailed during the course 
of the winter that one could scarcely go ten fathoms from the 
house. In its neighbourhood a man was overtaken by such 
a storm of drifting snow while hunting a reindeer. When he 


did not return after two days' absence it was determined to note 
him in the journal as having "perished without burial." 

On the pth April, 1769, there was a storm from the south- 
west, with mist, rain, and hail as large as half a bullet. On the 
-.^djun. ^ dreadful wind raged from the north-west, brinofins: from 

2'iiia May O ^ O O 

the high mountains a "sharp smoke-like air," — it was certainly 
afohn wind. The painful, depressing effect of this wind is generally 
known from Switzerland and from north-western Greenland. 
At the latter place it rushes right down with excessive violence 
from the ice-desert of the interior. But far from on that 
account bringing cold with it, the temjoerature suddenly rises 
above the freezing-point, the snow disappears as if by magic 
through melting and evaporation, and men and animals feel 
themselves suffering from the sudden change in the weather. 
Such winds besides occur everywhere in the Polar regions in the 
neighbourhood of high mountains, and it is probably on their 
account that a stay in the hill-enclosed kettle-valleys is in 
Greenland considered to be very unhealthy and to lead to 
attacks of scurvy among the inhabitants. 

The crew remained during the winter whole days, indeed 
whole weeks in succession, in their confined dwellings, carefully 
made tight, without taking any regular exercise in the open air. 
We can easily understand from this that they could not escape 
scur\^, by which most of them appear to have been attacked, 
and of which seven died, among them Tschirakin. It is sur- 
prising that any one of them could survive with such a mode of 
life during the dark Polar night. The brewing of quass, the 
daily baking of bread, and perhaps even the vapour-baths, mainly 
contributed to this. 

On the |-^th July the ice on Matotschkin Schar broke up, and 
on the ^j^ August the sound was completely free of ice. An 
attempt was now made to continue the voyage across the Kara 
Sea, and an endeavour Avas made for this purpose to put the vessel, 
defective from the first, and now still further damaged by ice, in 
repair, by stopping the leaks, as far as possible, with a mixture 
of clay and decayed seaweed. " Floating coffins " have often 
been used in Arctic voyages, and many times with greater success 
than the stateliest man-of-war. This time, however, Rossmuislov, 
after having sailed some few" miles eastward from Matotsch- 
kin Sound, in order to avoid certain loss, had to return 
to his winter quarters, where he fortunately fell in with a 
Russian hunter, with whom he commenced his return to 
Archangel. No precious metals were found, nor "any pearl- 
mus-sels," but Tschirakin confided to Rossmuislov the secret that 
at a certain place on the south coast he had found a block of 
stone of such extraordinary beauty that in the light of day it 
shone with the most splendid fire. After .Tschirakin's deat];i 

p 2 


Rossmuislov sought for the stone, but without success, and he 
therefore broke out in violent reproaches of his deceased 
comrade. I can, however, free him from the blame of deception ; 
for, during my voyage in 1875, I found in several of the blocks 
of schist in the region small veins of quartz, crossing the mass of 
stone. The walls of these veins were covered with hundreds of 
sharply-developed rock crystals with mirror-bright faces. 
Tschirakin's precious stone was doubtless nothing else than a 
druse of this shining but valueless mineral. 

Once more, nearly fifty years after Rossmuislov's voyage, in 
the year 1807, a miner, Ludlow, was sent out to investigate more 
thoroughly the supposed richness of the island in metals. He 
returned without having found any ore, but with the first 
accounts of the geological formation of the country ; and we have 
his companion Pospjelov to thank for some careful surveys on 
the west coast of Novaya Zemlya. 

The next expedition to the island was equipped and sent out 
from the naval dockyard at Archangel in 1819 under Lieutenant 
Lasarev, and had, in comparison with its predecessors, very 
abundant resources. But Lasarev was clearly unfit for the task 
he had undertaken, of commanding an Arctic exploratory 
expedition. In the middle of summer many of his crew were 
attacked by scurvy. Some few weeks after his departure from 
Archangel, at a time when pools of excellent drinking-water are 
to be found on nearly every large piece of drift-ice, and rapid 
torrents of melted snow empty themselves everywhere along the 
coast into the sea, he complains of the difficulty of procuring 
fresh water, &c. The expedition accordingly was altogether 

Of much greater importance were Captain-lieutenant (after- 
wards Admiral Count) LCtke's voyages to Novaya Zemlya in the 
summers of 1821, 1822, 1823, and 1824, voyages conducted with 
special skill and scientific insight. The narrative of them forms 
one of the richest sources of our knowledge of tliis part of the 
Polar Sea. But as he did not penetrate in any direction farther 
than his predecessors, an account of these voyages does not enter 
into the plan of the historical part of this work. 

Among Russian journeys the following may be noticed : — 

Those of the mate Ivanov in 1822-28, during which he 
surveyed the coast between the Kara river and the Petchora by 
overland travelling in Samoyed sleighs. 

Pachtussov's voyages in 1832-35. ^ W. Brandt, merchant, 

^ These remarkable voyages were described for the first time, after the 
accounts of Zivolka, by the academician K. E. v. Baer in Bulletin scienti- 
fique puhl. par V Acad. Imp. des Sciences de St. Petersburg., t. ii. No. 9, 10, 
11 (1837). Before this there does not appear to have been in St. Petersburg 
any knowledge of Pachtussov's voyages, the most remarkable which the 
history of Russian Polar Sea exploration has to show. 




and Klokoy, chief of the civil service, at Archangel, sent out in 
1832 an expedition with very comprehensive aims from that town, 
for the purpose of re-establishing the sea-route to the Yenisej, 
of surveying the east coast of Novaya Zemlya, and of walrus- 
hunting there. Three vessels were employed, viz., a " carbasse " 
manned by ten men, including the Commander-lieutenant in 
the corps of mates Pachtussov, who in previous voyages with 
Ivanov had become well acquainted with land and people along 


Born in 1797 in St. Petersburg. 

the coasts of the Polar Sea ; ' the schooner Yenisej under 
Lieutenat Krotov with ten men ; and a hunting lodja com- 
manded by the hunting mate Gwosdarev. Pachtussov was to 
undertake the east coast of Novaya Zemlya, Krotov to sail 

* The carbasse was named, like the vessels of Lasarev and Liitke, the 
Novaya Zemlya. It was forty-two feet long, fourteen feet beam, and six 
feet deep, decked fore and aft, and with the open space between protected 
by canvas from breakers. 


hrough Matotschkin Sound and across the Kara Sea to the 
Yenisej, and Gwosdarev to carry on hunting in order to cover 
part of the costs of the expedition. 

Pachtussov could not penetrate into the Kara Sea, but wintered 
the first time on South Novaya Zemlya in 70° 36' N.L. and 59" 
32' E.L. (Greenwich), in an old house which he found there, and 
which according to an inscription on a cross in its neighbourhood 
had been built in 1759. This ruinous house was repaired with 
driftwood, which was found in great abundance in that region. 
A separate bath-house was built, and was connected with the 
dwelling-house by a passage formed of empty barrels and 
covered with canvas. Eleven days were spent in putting the 
old house into such repair that it could be occupied. It was 
afterwards kept so warm that the inmates could stay there in 
their shirt-sleeves without freezing. The Commander, clear- 
headed and specially fit for his post as he was, did not permit 
his crew to fall into habits of idleness, dirt, and laziness, but 
kept them to regular work, bathing and change of linen twice 
a week. Every second hour meteorological observations were 
taken. During the whole winter the crew remained in good 
health, but in spring (March) scurvy broke out, notwithstanding ' 
the precautions that were taken, and two men died of it in May. 
Many times during winter the ice broke up, and at a short 
distance from the land the Kara Sea was open as far as the eye 
could reach. A herd of reindeer numbering about 500 head 
were seen in the end of September ; a number of foxes were 
taken in traps, and two Polar bears were killed. Geese were 
seen for the first time in spring on the ~ of May. 

Next summer Pachtussov rowed up along the east coast to 
71° 38' N.L. On the west bank of a river, called Savina, he 
found a very good harbour. He found there the remains of a 
hut, with a cross erected beside it, on which was the inscription 

" Sa'vva Th anov 9th June 1742," which he considered to 

belong to the time of Savva Loschkin's voyage. After his 
return from this boat journey Pachtussov went on board his 
vessel and sailed along the east coast north of Matotschkin Sound 
from the ?^|| July to the f^ August without meeting with any 
obstacle from ice. During this voyage he passed a very good 
harbour in 72° 26' N.L., in a bay, called Llitke's Bay. Pach- 
tussov then returned through Matotschkin Sound to the Petchora. 
Even along the east coast of North Novaya Zemlya the sea 
was open, but the stock of provisions, intended at their 
departure from Archangel for fourteen months, was now so 
low, that the gallant Polar explorer could not avail himself 
of this opportunity of j)erhaps circumnavigating the whole of 
Novaya Zemlya. 

Of the two other vessels that sailed from Archangel at the 

VI.] PACHTUSSOV'S VOYAGES, 1833-35. 215 

same time as Pachtussov's, the lodja returned heavily laden 
with the spoils of the chase, but on the other hand nothing 
was ever heard of the Ycniscj. A concern, not without 
justification, for its fate, and the desire to acquire as good 
knowledge of the east coast of the North Island as had been 
obtained of that of the South, gave occasion to Pachtussov's 
second voyage. 

For this the Government fitted out two vessels, a schooner and 
a " carbasse," which were named after the two officers of the 
Ycniscj, Krotov and Kasakov. The command of the former was 
undertaken by Pachtussov, and of the latter by the mate 
ZivoLKA. This time they wintered in 1834-35 on the south 
side of Matotschkin Sound at the mouth of the river Tschirakina, 
in a house built for the purpose, for which they used, besides 
materials brought with them, the remains of three old huts, 
found in the neighbourhood, and the wreck of Possmuislov's 
vessel which still lay on the beach. The house was a palace in 
comparison with that in which Pachtussov wintered before. 
It consisted of two rooms, one 21 feet by 16 feet, intended' 
for the crew (fourteen men), the other 12 feet by 10 feet, 
for the officers and surgeon, with a bath-house in addition. 
Matotschkin Sound was frozen over for the first time on the |th 
November. The thermometer never sank below the freezing- 
point of mercury, and the cold of winter could be easily borne, 
because the crew wore the Samoyed dress. But the snow- 
storms were so severe, that sometimes it was impossible for eight 
days at a time to leave the house, which was so snowed up that 
the opening in the roof for smoke had several times to be used 
as a door. The house had no true chimney, but was built like a 
Lapp hut. Eleven of the bears, who came in large numbers 
to the hut, were killed, one of them on the roof and another in 
the porch. During winter the crew were kept in constant em- 
ployment in killing foxes and at other work. Their state of 
health was also very good for the circumstances of the time. 
Only two men died. In spring Matotschkin Sound and part of 
the east coast of the North Island were surveyed by means of 
sledge journeys, after which an attempt was made during summer 
to circumnavigate the North Island, but without success. Light- 
ning accompanied by heavy rain was observed on the |th June. 
On the ^YxA September they sailed back to Archangel. Unfortu- 
nately soon after his arrival there Pachtussov fell ill of nervous 
fever and died on the ^|th November, 1835. It w^as a great loss, 
for by his devotion to the task he had undertaken, by judgment, 
courage, and endurance, he takes one of the foremost places 
among the Polar explorers of all countries. Besides, few of the 
older Arctic expeditions have brought home such a series of 
valuable astronomical determinations of position, geodetical 


measurements, meteorological and tidal observations, &c., as 

In 1837 the famous naturalist K. E. VON Baer undertook a 
voyage to Novaya Zemlya, accompanied by Lieutenant Zivolka, 
Lehmann the geologist, Rodee the draughtsman, and Philippov 
the conservator.^ They visited Matotschkin Schar, penetrated 
by boat to its eastern end and found the Kara Sea open, landing 
afterwards at Besimannaja Bay, Nechvatova, and on an island 
in Kostin Schar. The expedition thus nowhere penetrated so 
far as its predecessors, but it is of importance as the first 
examination of the natural history of the Polar Sea surrounding 
Novaya Zemlya carried out by actual men of science. With all 
the respect we must entertain for von Baer's great name as a 
scientific man, it cannot be denied that, through his papers on 
the natural history of the island, grounded on a cursory inspec- 
tion, a number of erroneous ideas regarding the natural 
conditions of the eastern Polar Sea obtained a footing in scien- 
tific literature. 

In order to complete the survey of the island the Russian 
Government sent out in 1838 a new expedition under Lieu- 
tenants Zivolka and Moissejev. They wintered in 1838-39 in 
Melkaja Guba on the west coast of Novaya Zemlya in 73° 57' 
N.L. ; but on this occasion Pachtussov's -judgment and insight 
were wanting, and the wintering was very unfortunate. Of the 
twenty-five men belonging to the expedition most were attacked 
during winter by scurvy ; nine died, among them Zivolka him- 
self. During spring, excursions for the purpose of surveying the 
neighbouring coasts had to be broken off because they had not 
brought snow-glasses with them — a thing that Pachtussov 
did not neglect, being accustomed besides to blacken the under 
eyelid as a protection against the blinding brightness of the 
snow. By the expedition, however, considerable stretches of 
the west coast of Novaya Zemlya Avere surveyed, and valuable 
contributions to a knowledge of the climatic conditions of this 
region obtained. These turned out to be less severe than had 
been expected. During winter the thermometer never sank 
below — 33° ; in July there were only two nights of frost, and on 
two occasions -|- 18° was observed in the shade ; in August there 
were only three hours of frost. All this depends of course on 

1 The details of Pachtussov's voyages are taken partly from von Baei'^s 
work already quoted, partly from Carl Svenske, Novaya Zemlya, &c., St. 
Petersburg, 1866 (in Eussian, published at the expense of M. K. Sidoroff ), 
and J. Sporer, Nowaja Semld in geofjixqMscher, naturhistorischer unci 
volkswirthschaftlicher BezieJmng, nach den Quellen hearbeitet. Erganz-Heft. 
No. 21 zu Peterra. Geogr. Mittheiluvgen, Goth a, 1867. 

2 Bulletin scientifiqiie puhJie par VAcademie Imp. de St. Petersburg, t. ii. 
(1837), p. 315 ; iii. (1838), p. 96, and other places. 




the ueiglibourhood of warm marine currents and of a sea open 
all the year round at a short distance from the coast. 

With this unfortunate and to all appearance ill-arranged 
expedition the Russian Novaya Zemlya. voyages ceased for a 
long time. For before the beQ-inuinfj of the Norwegian huntinsf 
we have only two other Russian voyages to notice in our sketch 
of the history of the North East passage. 

The first of these owed its origin to the desire of the captain 
of a Russian man-of-war, Paul von Keusenstern, to under- 
take a voyage in the Polar Sea in a schooner, the Yerniak, 
which belonged to him and which was for the time lying at the 
Petchora, in order to survey the coasts lying to the eastward. 
He intended himself to undertake the command, and to take 


Born in ISIO at Warsaw ; died in 1839 on Novaya Zemlya. 
(After a pen-and-ink drawing communicated by Herr Paul Dasclikoff.) 

with him as second in command his son Paul von Keusenstern. 
lieutenant in the Russian marine. The latter was sent before 
to equip the Ycrniak, which he did with wonderful judgment 
and skill, in the best way possible, in a region where at that 
time nearly every requisite for the equipment of a vessel was 
wanting. The elder Krusenstern was unable to reach the place 
of sailing in time, on which account the command was given to 
the son. 

He left the mouth of the Petchora on the -^tFAug') I860. 
Three days after he reached the Kara port, which was completely 




free of ice, as was the sea to the eastward. But the late season 
of the year, the defective equipment of the Ycrmak, and, it 
would appear, the wording of the orders he had received, 
compelled him to turn after he had penetrated some distance 
into the Kara Sea. On the ^Hh September accordingly he was 
again at the Petchora, without having reached his goal. The 
attempt to penetrate eastwards from this river was resumed at 
the instance of Michael Sidokoff, afterwards so well known 
as the restless promoter of sea-communication between Siberia 
and Europe. The Yeiiymk was repaired, along with a decked 
Norwegian pilot-boat, which was named the Emhrio. The 


Bom at Eevel in 1834 ; died at Dorpat in 1S71 

command was undertaken by P. von Krusenstern, junior. He 
left the anchorage Kuva on the Petchora on the ^~ August. 
On the fith August, the two small vessels sailed into Yugor 
Schar, after having been long detained during their course by 
storms and head- winds. Some huts erected by hunters were 
seen on the right shore of the sound, and on both sides of it 
Samoyed "chums " (touts of reindeer skin) and reindeer. The 




inhabitants had climbed up on the roofs and indicated their 
astonishment by gesticulations. Both vessels anchored in the 
neighbourhood of Vaygats Island. But a couple of hours 
afterwards large masses of ice drove with an altered current into 
the harbour, forced the Ycrmah from its anchor and carried the 
vessel into the Kara Sea. It was only with great trouble that it 
was released from the ice and anchored in the eastern mouth of 
Yugor Schar. 

On the Ith von Krusenstern again weighed anchor, either 


Bora in 1S23 at Arcliangel. 

to sail to the eastward or to search for a more secure anchorage 
than that which he had been compelled for the time to make 
use of. But the wind was so light that he could not hold a 
course independent of the currents. It was, therefore, necessary 
to moor the vessel to a large ice-field, and with this the 
Yermah during the following days drifted farther and farther. 
Soon the vessel was completely enclosed by the ice, and thus 
rendered unmanageable. The weather was often fine, the 
thermometer showed + 4°, a strong aerial reflection elevated 


images of the pieces of ice at the horizon, and gave them the 
most wonderful and beautiful forms. Everywhere there were 
upon the ice fresh-water pools, some of which were of great 
extent and of no inconsiderable depth. Thus, on the ice-field 
lying nearest the vessel there were different "lakes," one of 
which was used for drinking, another for filling the water-casks, 
a third to supply washing-water to the crew, and a fourth for 
washing their clothes. 

On the |!^^^. the ice began to be pressed together by a light 
W.S.W. wind. Convinced that the vessel would soon be nipped, 
the men on board began to save the stock of provisions and the. 
boats, by placing them on the ice, but the pressure soon ceased. 
There fell a heavy rain, which afterwards, when the wind 
changed to north-west, passed into snow. On the ^*^^*; the 
coast of Yailmal was sighted. A fathom-thick ice-floe shot 
under the vessel and caused it to heel over to starboard. The 
following day there was a storm from the S.S.W. with snow 
The ice forcing itself forward shook the vessel several times so 
violently that the crew rushed up to save the provisions, &c., on 
the ice. They were now in the neighbourhood of 70° N.L. and 
65° E.L. (Greenwich), almost right off the mouth of the Kara 
river. The crew worked the whole day with axes and iron bars 
hewing off the sharp projecting corners of the ice-blocks that 
were pressed against the vessel. On the ^^^'^^g- there was warm 
weather with rain. The ice was in so violent motion that it 
was impossible to walk upon it. On the afternoon of the same 
day the Ycrmak sustained several violent concussions, and the 
hull was lifted one foot. On the ^{^ September, a violent storm 
broke out, which drove the vessel to the north-east. It was ex- 
pected every moment that the vessel would be nipped, and a 
tent was accordingly pitched on the ice, in order that part of the 
provisions from the hold might be placed in it. Wood even was 
cari'ied to it. It was Russia's thousand-years' day, and it was 
celebrated with a festive ball and merry songs, although they 
every instant expected their vessel to be crushed by the masses 
of ice that were pressed together by the fearful storm. On the 
]^ September, tlie stem of the vessel was forced five feet above 
the water-line, and the whole night a continual cracking of 
timbers was heard in the hull. The water rose rapidly to a 
depth of two feet. Every man left the vessel and removed 
to the ice, but soon after the immense ice-field on which the 
tent was pitched went in pieces, while the leak in the vessel 
closed, and the crew in consequence went on board again. On 
the j^^ September, the vessel was again pressed so, that the deck 
at times was bent to the form of a vault. On the ^ September, 
von Krusenstern called the crew together that they might 
choose from their number three persons to advise with the 

VI.] VON KRUSENSTERN, 1862. 221 

commander oa the best means of making their escape, and two 
days after the vessel was abandoned, after- a meal at which the 
crew were hterally offered all the house afforded. They then 
broke up for a journey to land, which was exceedingly difficult 
on account of the unevenness of the ice. They were soon 
obliged to leave the boat, which they had at first endeavoured to 
drag along with them over the ice, and take the most indis- 
pensable of the provisions on their own backs. On leaving the 
ship a sailor had secretly got possession of so much brandy, that 
during the first day's march he had the opportunity of drinking 
himself dead drunk. To carry him along was not possible, to 
wait was not advisable. He was left therefore to sleep off the 
drink ; and in order that he might do so as soon as possible they 
took off his clothes and left him lying upon the ice with only 
his shirt on. Next day, however, he got up with his comrades 
after following their track in the darkness the whole night. 
Open places were often met with, which the travellers had to 
cross on pieces of drift-ice rowed forward by boat-hooks. Once 
when the shipwrecked men were ferrying themselves over upon 
a piece of ice which was already fully loaded, six walruses were 
seen in the neighbourhood. They showed a disposition to 
accompany the seafarers on the piece of ice, which in that case 
would certainly have sunk, and it was only after a ball had been 
sent through the leader's head that the animals gave up their 
plan for resting, which gave evidence of a gregariousness as 
great as their want of acquaintance with mankind. After 
Krusenstern and his companions had for several days in succes- 
sion drifted backwards and forwards on a piece of ice in the 
neighbourhood of land, and traversed long stretches by jumping 
from one piece of ice to another, they at last reached the shore 
on the jgth September. In the immediate neighbourhood they 
found an encampment, whose inhabitants (Samoyeds) gave the 
shipwrecked men a friendly reception, and entertained them 
with the luxuries of the reindeer herd — raw and cooked reindeer 
flesh, reindeer tongues, reindeer marrow — raw fish and goose- 
fat. After the meal was finished the exhausted wanderers lay 
down to sleep in the Samoyed tents on the soft reindeer skins ; 
" all sorrows and difficulties were forgotten ; we felt a boundless 
enjoyment, as if we had come to paradise." Thence they 
travelled in reindeer sledges to Obdorsk, everywhere received in 
a friendly and hospitable manner by the wild tribes on the way, 
although the hospitality sometimes became troublesome, as for 
instance when an Ostyak compelled von Krusen.stern to drink 
tea six times a day, and six cups each time, and offered him 
as a special luxury an extract of tobacco in brandy.^ 

^ Paul von Krusenstern, Skizzen aus sienemSeemannsIeben. Semen Freunden 
gewidmet. Hirschberg in Silesia, without date. 


Krusentern's adventurous journey across the Kara Sea is one 
of the many proofs that a Polar navigator ought above every- 
thing to avoid being beset. The very circumstance that the 
ice-field, in which he became fixed in the neighbourhood of 
Yugor Schar, could drift across to the east coast of the Kara 
Sea, shows that it was for the most part open, and that a 
steamer or a good sailing-vessel that year, and probably also 
the preceding, might very readily have reached the mouth of 
the Ob or the Yenisej. The narrative of von Krusenstern's 
journey is besides the first complete sketch we have of a passage 
from west to east over the Kara Sea. Little idea could any one 
then have that within a single decade a number of vessels 
should sail free and unhindered along this route. 

Soon after the two voyages I have described above, and 
before they became generally known in the geographical litera- 
ture of Western Europe, a new era began in the navigation of 
the Kara Sea, which was brought about by the Norwegian 
hunters being compelled to seek for new fields of sport on and 
beyond Novaya Zemlya. 

The history of the Spitzbergen hunting has not yet been 
written in a satisfactory way, and is in many respects very 
obscure. It is supposed that after the discovery of Spitzbergen 
in 1596 by Barents, the hunting in the Polar Seas began during 
Bennet's first voyage in 1603, and that the whale-fishing was 
introduced by JoNAS PoOLE in 1610. But already in the follow- 
ing year Poole, whose vessel was then wrecked on the west coast 
of Spitzbergen, found in Horn Sound a ship from Hull, to 
which he gave charge of saving his cargo, and two years after 
the English were compelled, in order to keep foreigners from 
the fishing field they wished to monopolise, to send out six 
men-of-war, which found there eight Spanish, and a number of 
Dutch and French vessels (Furchas, iii. pp. 462, 716, &c.). 
Even in our days the accounts of new sources of wealth do not 
spread so speedily as in this case, unless, along with the history 
of the discovery which was written by Hakluyt, Purchas, De 
Veer, &c., there had been an unknown history of discovery and 
the whale-fishing, of which it may still be possible to collect 
some particulars from the archives of San Sebastian, Dunkirk, 
Hull, and other ports. 

However this may be, it is certain that the English and 
Dutch North-east voyages gave origin to a whale-fishery in the 
sea round Spitzbergen, which increased by many millions the 
national wealth of these rich commercial states. The fishing 
went on at first immediately along the coasts, from which, 
however, the whales were soon driven, so that the whale-fishers 
had to seek new fishing-grounds, first farther out to sea between 
Spitzbergen and Greenland, then in Davis' Strait, and finally in 




the South Polar Sea, or in the sea on both sides of Behring's 

Spitzbergen, when the whale-fishing ceased in its neighbour- 
hood, was mostly abandoned, until the Russians began to settle 
there, principally for the hunting of the mountain fox and the 
reindeer. Of their hunting voyages we know very little, but 
that they had been widely prosecuted is shown by the remains 


The Procven, emploj-cd by the Swedish Expedition to the Yenisei in 1875. 

of their dwellings or huts on nearly all the fjords of Spitzbergen, 
They seem to have often wintered, probably because the 
defective build of their vessels only permitted them to sail to 
and from Spitzbergen during the height of summer, and they 
could not thus take part without wintering in the autumn 
hunting, during which the fattest reindeer are got ; nor could 
the thick and valuable fur of the winter-fox be obtained without 


wintering.' But the hunting voyages of the Russians to Spitz- 
bergen have also long ceased. The last voyage thither took 
place in 1851-52, and had a very unfortunate issue for most of 
those who took part in it, twelve men dying out of twenty. On 
the other hand, the Norwegian voyages to Spitzbergen for the 
seal and walrus-hunting, begun in the end of last century, still 
go on. Their history, too, is, even here in the North, very 
incompletely known, at least to 1858, when the Swedish scien- 
tific expeditions began regularly to visit those regions, and to 
include in the narratives of their voyages more or less complete 
accounts of the Norwegian hunting, an example that has since 
been followed, though by no means very completely or systema- 
tically, by the editors of Norwegian and foreign journals, in 
the first place by Petermann's Mittheilungen.^ 

Between 1860 and 1870 the game (walrus, seal, bear, and 
reindeer) began to diminish in such a degree that the hunters 
were compelled to seek for themselves new hunting-grounds. 
They turned to the north and east, the less accessible parts of 
Spitzbergen, afterwards still farther eastwards towards Novaya 
Zemlya, and beyond this island to the Kara Sea, and they 
penetrated farther than all their predecessors. In the history 
of the North-east Passage therefore some pages must always be 
devoted to the bold voyages to Novaya Zemlya of these small 
hunting sloops, provisioned only for the summer. 

The Norwegian hunter who first visited Novaya Zemlya was 
Elling Carlsen, afterwards known as a member of the 
Austrian Polar expedition. In 1868 he sailed in a sloop from 
Hammerfest on a hunting voyage eastward, forced his way into 
the Kara Sea through the Kara Port, but soon returned through 
Yugor Schar, and then sailed northwards as far as Cape Nassau. 
Induced by the abundance of game, he returned next year to the 
same regions, and then succeeded in penetrating the Kara Sea 
as far as the neighbourhood of Beli Ostrov, whence he returned 
to Norway through Matotschkin Schar. Carlsen's lead was 

^ Information regarding the mode of life of the Eussian hunters on the 
coasts of Spitzbergen is to be found in P. A. le Roy, Relation des avantures 
arrivees a quatre matelots Busses, cCc. 1766 ; Tschitschagov's Eeise nach dem 
Eismeer, St. Petersburg, 1793; John Bacstrom, Account of a voyage to 
Spitzhergen, 1780, London, 1808 (as stated ; I hare not seen this work) ; 
■ B. M. Keilhauj Reise i Ost og Vest Finmarken, samt til Beeren-Eiland og 
Spetsbergen i Aarene 1827 og 182S, Christiania, 1831 ; A. Erman, Archiv 
far icissenschaftliche Kimde von Eussland, Part 13 (1854), p. 260; K. 
Chydenius, Si^enska expeditionen till Spetshergen 1861 (p. 435) ; Duner and 
Nordenskiold, >Srens^Yf Expeditioner till Spetsbergen och Jan Mayenl863 och 
1864 (p. 101). 

2 Before 1858 there is to be found in Petermann's Mittheilungen only a 
single notice of the Norwegian Spitzbergen hunting, the existence of 
which was at the time probably known to no great number of European 




immediately followed by several Norwegian hunters, one of 
Avhom, Edward Johannesen, made a very remarkable voyage, 
of which I will here give a brief account. 

Joliamiesen anchored on the 31st May, 1869, at Meschdu- 
schar Island, without having seen any drift-ice in the course 
of his voyage. He then sailed up along the west coast of 
Novaya Zemlya in nearly open water past Matotschkin Sound 
to Cape Nassau, which was reached on the 19th June. Hence 
he returned, following the coast toward the south, until, on the 
29th June, he sailed throucrh the Kara Port into the Kara Sea. 


Born at Tromsoe in 1819. 

This was passed in very open water, and after coming to its 
eastern side he followed the coast of Yalmal towards the noith 
to Beli Ostrov. This island was reached on the 7th August, and 
from it he steered south along the east coast of Novnya Zemlya 
to the Kara Port, through which he returned to Norway.^ 

The same yenr. the English sportsman, Mr. John Palliser^ 
sailed across the Kara Sea, through Matotschkin Schar to Beli 
Ostrov. He returned through Yugor Schar with abundance 

^ The first account of tins voya.^^e was ))nl)lished in Ofcersifft of SveiisLa 
Vetenskaps-akademippsforhandUngar, 1870, ]>. 111. 
- Atkenceum, 186'J, p. 498. Petennann's 3Iittheilunr/en, 1869, p. 391. 


of booty ^ from the hunting-grounds where formerly the 
walruses tumbled undisturbed among the drift-ice, and where 
the white bear has not yet met his superior.^ 

These voyages are amongst the most remarkable that the 
history of Arctic navigation can show. They at once overturned 
all the theories which, on the ground of an often superficial 
study of preceding unsuccessful voyages, had been set up 
regarding the state of the ice east of Novaya Zemlya, and they 


Born in 1844, at Balsfjord Parsona^'e. 

thus form the starting-point of a new era in the history of the 
North-east Passage. 

After his return to Norway Johannesen sent to the Academy 
of Sciences in Stockholm a paper on his voyage in 1869, and on 
his hydrographical observations in the Kara Sea, for which he 
received a silver medal. This I was commissioned to send him, 
and in the correspondence which took place regarding it I on 
one occasion said in jest that a circumnavigation of Novaya 

1 Palliser's game consisted of 49 walruses, 14 Polar bears and 2.5 
seals ; that of the working hunters was many times greater. All the 
vessels which went from Tromsoe that year captured 805 walruses, 2,302 
seals, 53 bears, &c. 

2 Sidoroff too started in 1869 on a north-east voyage in a steamer of his 
own, the George. However, he only reached the Petchora, and the statement 
that went the round of the press, that the George actually reached the Ob, 
is thus one of the many mistakes which so readily find their way into the 
news of the day. 


Zemlya would certainly entitle him to a gold medal from the 
same famous scientific institution that had given him the silver 
medal. I myself travelled the following summer, in 1870, to 
Greenland, and returned thence late in autumn. I then had 
the pleasure of receiving from Captain Johanuesen a new paper, 
afterwards inserted in the Ofversigt, of the transactions of the 
Royal Academy of Sciences for the year 1871, p. 157, "Hydro- 
grafiske lakttagelser under en Fangsttour 1870 rundt ora Novaja 
Zemlja." Johannesen now as on the first occasion sailed back- 
wards and forwards along the west coast of Novaya Zemlya, 
then through the Kara Port, which was passed on the 12th July. 
He then followed the east coast of Vaygats to Mestni Island, 
where he came in contact with Samoyeds, in connection with 
which he makes the remark, certainly quite unexpected by 
philologists, that in the language of the Samoyeds "certain 
Norwegian words were recognised." Their exterior was not 
at all attractive. The}' had flat noses, their eyes were dread- 
fully oblique, and many had also oblique mouths. The men 
received the foreigners drawn up in a row, with the Avomen 
in the second rank. All were very friendly. On the 11th 
August he was on the coast of Yalmal in 71° 48' N.L., whence 
he sailed over to Novaya Zemlya in order to take on board wood 
nnd water. He anchored in the neighbourhood of Udde Bay in 
73° 48' N.L., and saw there twenty wild reindeer. Then he 
sailed again over the Kara Sea to Yalmal. 

During these cruisings in the Kara Sea the summer had 
passed. Johannesen's vessel was now full, but notwithstanding 
this he determined, at a season of the year when the walrus- 
hunters commonly return to Norway, to see whether the offered 
prize could not be won into the bargain. The course was shaped 
first to the north-east, then westward to the north coast of 
Novaya ZemJya, which was reached on the 3rd September. The 
whole sea here was open, which Johannesen, on the ground 
of finding Norwegian fishing-net floats among the driftwood, 
attributed to the action of the Gulf Stream. Hence he returned 
to Norway, after having completed a voyage which some years 
before all geographical authorities would have considered an 
impossibility. I need scarcely mention that the Academy in 
Stockholm redeemed the promise which one of its members had 
given without the necessary authority. Johannesen was then 
twenty-six years old. Son of a skilful hunter, he had from his 
childhood taken part in Arctic voyages, and thus grown up in 
the employment to which he had devoted himself. 

The same year several other walrus-hunters also made remark- 
able voyages in the Kara Sea, Captain E. A. Ulve first sailed 
along the west coast of Novaya Zemlya to 76° 47' N.L,, then 
back to jMatotschkin Scliar, through which he passed on the 

Q 2 


7th and 8th August into the Kara Sea, which was completely 
free of ice, with the exception of some few very scattered pieces. 
After sailing backwards and forwards in different directions in 
the Kara Sea, he returned through the Kara Port on the 24th 
August. Captain F. E. Mack made a similar voyage. He 
sailed from the 28th June to the 8th July northwards along the 
west coast of Novaya Zemlya, which was free of ice between the 
Petchora and the Admiralty peninsula, where fast ice was 
found, and fourteen sailing vessels and two steamers were now 
assembled. On the 8th and 9th June thunder was heard here. 
From the Admiralty peninsula Mack sailed again, first to the 
south, and then, on the 18th July, through Matotschkin Sound 
into the Kara Sea, which was nearly free of ice. Captain P. 
Quale, again, and A. O. Nedrevaag, sailing master, penetrated 
through Yugor Sound into the Kara Sea, and sailed there to 
75° 22' N.L., and 74' 35' E.L. (Greenwich).^ 

Also in 1871 a number of walrus-hunters made remarkable 
voyages in the Kara Sea. Of these, however, only one. Mack, 
in the schooner Pole Star, penetrated eastwards farther than all 
his predecessors. On the 14th June he sailed into the Kara 
Sea through the Kara Port, but found the sea still covered with 
continuous fast ice, from 1"8 to 2 metres in thickness. He 
therefore turned and sailed northwards along the west coast of 
Novaya Zemlya to the Gulf Stream Islands (76' 10' N.L. ), 
where he remained till the 3rd of August. The temperature 
of the air rose here to + 10^ '5. The name, which the Norwegian 
walrus-hunters have o^iven these islands, owes its oris^in to the 
large number of objects from southern seas which the Gulf 
Stream carries with it thither, as floats from the Norwegian 
fisheries, with their owner's marks frequently recognisable by 
the walrus-hunters — beans of Entada gigalohium from the West 
Indies, pumice-stone from Iceland, fragments of wrecked vessels, 
&c. On the 3rd of August Mack passed the northernmost 
promontory of Novaya Zemlya. Hence he sailed into the Kara 
Sea, where at first he fell in with ice. Farther on, however, the 
ice disappeared completely, and Mack on the 12th of September 
reached 75° 25' N.L. and 82° 30' E.L. (Greenwich) accord- 

■^ Peterraann's M/ftheilun//en, 1871, p. 97. Along witli Ulve's, Mack's, 
and Quale's voyages, Petermann refers to a voyage round Novaya Zemlya 
by T, Torkildsen. In this case, however, Petermann was exposed to a 
possibly unintended deception. Torkildsen, who visited the Polar Sea for 
the first time in 1870, indeed made the voyage round Nova,ya Zsmlya, but 
only as a rescued man on Johannesen's vessel. Torkildsen's own vessel, the 
Alifa, had been wrecked on the 13th July at the bottom of Kara Bay, after 
which the skipper and six men Avere saved by Johannesen, yet by no 
means so tliat Torkildsen, as is stated by Petermann, had the least com- 
mand of the vessel that saved him. (Cf. Tromsoe Stiftstidende, 1871, 
No. 23.) 



ino- to Petermann, but 81° 11' Long, according to the Tromsoe 
Stiftstidcndc. He returned through -Yugor Schar, which was 
passed on the 26th September.^ The same year E. Johannesen, 
after long endeavouring without success to make his way into 
the Kara Sea through the southern strait, sailed northwards 
along the west coast of Novaya Zemlya, and did not leave Cape 
Nassau until the 15th October. 

From the same year too Petermann also publishes very 
remarkable journals of the Norwegian walrus-hunting captains, 
S. ToBiESEN, H. Ch. Johannesen, J. N. Isaksen, Soren 
Johannesen, Doeema, Simonsen, and E. Carlsen ; but as none 
of these gallant seamen that year penetrated to the north or 
east beyond the points which their predecessors had reached, 
I may be allowed with regard to their voyages to refer to 
Mittheilungeii for 1872 (pp. 386—391 a,nd 395), also to the 
maps which are inserted in the same volume of that journal 
(pi. 19 and 20), and which are grounded on the working out by 
Prof. H. MoHN, of Christiania, of his countrymen's observations. 
With respect to Captain E. Carlson's voyage, however, it may 
be stated, that in the course of it a discovery was made, which 
has been represented as that of an Arctic Pompeii, remarkably 
well protected against the depredation of the tooth of Time, not 
indeed by lava and volcanic ashes, but by ice and snow. For 
when Carlsen on the 9th September landed on the north-east 
coast of Novaya Zemlya in 76" 7' N.L., he found there a house, 
10 metres long and 6 metres wide, with the roof fallen in, long 
since abandoned and filled with gravel and ice. From this 
frozen gravel were dug up a large number of household articles, 
books, boxes, &c., which showed that they were relics of Barents' 
winter dwelling, which now, almost three hundred years after 
the place had been abandoned, came to the light of day, so well 
])reserved that they gave a lively idea of the way in which the 
European passed his first winter in the true Polar regions. 
When Carlsen had erected a cairn in which he placed a tin 
canister containing an account of the discovery, he took on 
board the most important of the articles which he had found 
and returned to Norway. There he sold them at first for 10,800 
crowns to an Englishman, Mr. Ellis C. Lister Kay, who after- 
wards made them over for the price he had paid for them to the 
Dutch Government. They are now to be found arranged at the 
Marine Department at the Hague in a model room, which is an 
exact reproduction of the interior of Barents' house on Novaya 

^ Tromsoe Stiftsiidende,\%l\, 1^0. 83; Peterniann's J/zW/^eikniriSH, 1872, 
p. 384. 

" Cf. The Three Voyages of WUVmvi Barents, by Gerrit de Veer, 2nd 
Edition, with an Introduction hy Lieutenant Koolenians Beynen. London, 
1876 (Works issued by the Hakluyt Society, No. 54). 


After Carlsen, Barents' winter haven was visited in the year 
1875 by the Norwegian wah^us-hunter, M. Gundeesen, who 
among other things found there a broken chest containing two 
maps and a Dutch translation of the narrative of Pet's and 
Jackman's voyages, and in the year 1876 by Mr. Chaeles 
Gaediner, who through more systematic excavations succeeded 
in collecting a considerable additional number of remarkable 
things, among which were the ink-horn and the pens which the 
Polar travellers had used nearly three centuries ago, and a 
powder-horn, containing a short account, signed by Heemskerk 
and Barents, of the most important incidents of the expedition. 
Gundersen's find is still, as far as I know, at Hammerfest ; 
Gardiner's has been handed over to the Dutch Government to 
be preserved along with the other Barents relics at the Hague. 

In 1872 the state of the ice both north of Spitzbergen and 
round Novaya Zemlya was exceedingly unfavourable,^ and several 
of the scientific expeditions and hunting vessels, which that 
year visited the Arctic Ocean, there underw^ent severe calamities 
and misfortunes. Five of the best hunting vessels from 
Tromsoe were lost in the ice ; the Swedish expedition, which 
that year started for the north, could not, as was intended, erect 
its winter dwelling on the Seven Islands, but was compelled to 
winter at the more southerly Mussel Bay ; and the Austrian 
expedition under the leadership of Payer and Weyprecht was 
beset by ice a few hours after its campaign had commenced in 
earnest. It is well known how this carefully equipped expedition 
afterwards for two winters in succession drifted about in the 
Polar Sea, until it finally came to a standstill at a previously un- 
known land lying north of Novaya Zemlya, which was named 
after the Austrian Emperor, Franz Josef These two expeditions, 
however, did not touch the territory of the Vegas voj'age, on 
which account I cannot here take any further notice of them.'' 
But the same year a wintering took place on the west coast of 
Novaya Zemlya, of which I consider that I ought to give a 
somewhat more detailed account, both because in the course of 
it one of the most gallant Polar voyagers of Norway met his 

^ The sea in the neighbourhood of Spitzbergen on the east was on the 
other hand very open that year, so that it was possible for the same time 
to reach and circumnavigate the large island situated to the east of Spitz- 
bergen, which had been seen in 1864 by Uuner and me from the top of 
"White Mount in the interior of Stor Fjord. 

- Nor does space permit me to give an account of various expeditions, 
which indeed concerned Novaya Zemlya, but did not penetiate farther 
eastward than their predecessors; for instance, the fiosentlial expedition of 
1871, in which the well-known African traveller and Spitzbergen voyager 
Baron von Heuglin, and the Norwegian botanist Aage Aagaard, took part 
as naturalists ; Payer and Weyprecht's voyage of reconnaissance in the 
sea between Spitzbergen and Novaya Zemlya in 1871, &c. 



2:5 1 

tate, and because it shows us various new, hitherto untouched 
sides of winter hfe in the High North. 

Si VERT ToBiESEN was one of the oldest and boldest of the 
Norwegian walrus-hunting skippers ; he had with life and soul 
devoted himself to his calling, and in it was exposed to many 
dangers and difficulties, which he knew how to escape through 
courage and skill. In 1864 he had sailed round the north- 
eastern i3art of North-east Land, and had been very successful 
in hunting ; but as he was about to return home, his vessel was 
beset by ice near the southern entrance to Hinloopen Strait, 
where the same fate also overtook two other hunting sloops, one 

•--■■% err- 


Born at Tromsoe in 1S21, died on Novaya Zemlya ia 1873. 

of them commanded by the old hunting skipper Mattilas, who 
in the winter of 1872-73 died in a tent at Grey Hook, the 
other by the skipper J. Istrom. They were compelled to save 
themselves in boats, in which they rowed through Hinloopen 
Strait to the mouth of Ice Fjord, where the shipwrecked crews 
were met and saved by the Swedish expedition of 1864. He 
passed the winter of 1865-66 happily, in a house built for the 
purpose on Bear Island, and communicated to the Swedish 
Academy of Sciences a series of valuable meteorological observa- 
tions, made during the wintering. ^ After 1868 he had made 

^ Kungl. Svensku Vetenskaps-alademuns hamUinoar, 1869. 




several successful voyages to Novaya Zemlya, some of which 
were also remarkable from a geographical point of view, and in 
1872 he was also on a hunting expedition to the same regions. 
As he could not enter the Kara Sea, he sailed up along the'' west 
coast, where in the middle of September he was beset in the 
neighbourhood of the Cross Islands. Hence seven of the crew 
travelled south in a boat to seek for a vessel, but Tobiesen him- 
self, his son and two men, remained on board. Their stock of 
provisions consisted of only a small barrel of bread, a sack of 
corners and fragments of ship biscuit, a small quantity of coffee, 
tea, sugar, syrup, groats, salt meat, salt fish, a few pounds of 
pork, a couple of tin canisters of preserved vegetables, a little 

tobiesen"s winter house on bear island. 
(After a sketch by the Author.) 

bad butter, &c. There was abundance of wood on board and 
on the land. Notwithstanding the defective equipment they 
went on bravely and hopefully with the preparations for winter- 
ing, gathered drift-wood in heaps on the beach, threw a tent of 
sails over the vessel, threw up snow about its sides, covered the 
deck with the hides of the seals and walruses that had been 
captured during summer, did what could be done to bring 
about good ventilation on board, &c. A large number ol" 
bears came to the winter station at the commencement of 
the Avintering, affording an abundant supply of fresh bears' 
flesh. So long as this lasted, the health of the party was 


j^ood, but when it came to an end at the new year, their 
food for three weeks consisted mainly of ill-smelKng salt bears' 
flesh. Tobiesen and one of the men were now taken ill. 
The cold sank to - 39^ C.^ On the 29th April, 1873, 
Tobiesen died of scurvy. In the month of May his son was 
also attacked, and died on the 5th July. The two men also 
suffered from scurvy, but recovered. They rowed south in the 
month of August, and were rescued by a Russian hunting- 

The seven men, the harpoouer Henrik Nilsen, Ole Andreas 
Olsen, Axel Henriksen, Amandus Hansen, Nils Andreas Foxen, 
Johan Andersson and Lars Larsen, who rowed away in autumn 
had an exceedingly remarkable fate. When they left the vessel 
they could only take with them fourteen ship biscuits, six boxes 
of lucifers, two guns, with ammunition, a spy-glass, a coffee- 
pot and an iron pot, but no winter clothes to protect them from 
the cold. At first, in order to get to open water, they had to 
drag the boat about seven kilometres over the ice. They then 
steered southwards along the land. The journey was made 
under circumstances of great difficulty and privation. The 
darkness and cold increased, as did the storm, and what was 
worst of all their stock of provisions was very soon consumed. 
On the second day, however, they were fortunate enough to 
shoot a bear ; afterwards they also succeeded in killing a pair 
of seals. Finally, after having partly rowed and partly sailed 
about three weeks (they had no almanac with them), and tra- 
velled nearly 400 kilometres, they came to two small hunting or 
store houses, which the Russians had built on the north side of 
Gooseland. In order to have at least a roof over their heads 
the exhausted men settled there, though in the house they 
found neither food, clothes, nor hunting implements. They 
were all much enfeebled by hunger, thirst, cold, and the long 
boat journey; their feet were swollen and partly frost-bitten. 

They remained in the house three weeks, and during that 
time shot a seal> two Vv'hite foxes, and four reindeer, with which 
they kept in their lives ; but as it appeared that there were no 
more reindeer to be had, and there were no more opportunities 
of shooting seals or reindeer, they determined to leave the 
house and endeavour to get to Vaygats Island. Wheir they 
broke up, Ole Andreas Olsen and Henrik Nilsen took the guns 
and ammunition, while the other five commenced the journey 
with some small sledges they had found at the house, on which 
they loaded what they had of clothes and other articles. The 

^ At Mussel Bay, too, during the winter of 1872-73, the greatest degree 
of cold was the same ; that is to say, at neither place did it reach the 
freezing-point of mercury. At the Vega's winter station, on the contrary. 
iv was considerably greater. 


boat was left behind. Soon after they left the house Ole 
Andreas Olsen and Henrik Nilsen were separated in a snow- 
storm from the others who drew the sledges. The latter now 
agreed to determine by lot whether they should return to the 
house or continue their journey, and when the lot fell for the 
latter they allowed it to settle the matter, and so went south. ^ 

Their position was now desperate in the extreme. When 
they left the house they had about half a pound of reindeer 
flesh and a little blubber remaining. The weather was dread- 
ful ; they were badly clothed, and they wanted water. In con- 
sequence they could make only very short days' marches. At 
night they buried themselves in the snow, and while the rest 
slept, one man kept constant watch, to prevent the others from 
being snowed up and to keep the bears at a distance. They all 
held out till the sixth night. Then Amandus Hansen died. 
The rest were compelled to leave him in the snow and continue 
their journey as well as they could, but they had by degrees 
become so weak and exhausted that, after having traversed 
probably about 100 kilometres, for the most part along the 
coast, they had to leave even the sledges and the most of what 
they had with them. The seventh or eighth day they caught 
sight of a little pile of fuel, and the track of a sledge in the 
snow. By following this track for about ten kilometres they 
found a small house, inhabited by Samoyeds, who immediately 
gave them a friendly reception, and entertained them in the 
most hospitable way. In particular they showed much kindness 
to Nils Andreas Foxen, whose toes were frost-bitten, and who 
was in other respects much enfeebled. 

These Samoyeds, three men, three women, and a boy, spoke 
Russian. They had settled for the winter on tlie south part of 
Gooselaud to shoot the seal and the walrus. They had with 
them a large barge, besides some small Samoyed boats, and were 
comparatively well provided with reindeer flesh, meal, tea, 
sugar, &c. Their guns were old flint-lock fowling-pieces, but 
they were good shots. With these Samoyeds the four ship- 
wrecked men remained the whole winter, and were tolerably 
well oft". When the weather permitted they assisted the 
Samoyeds in capturing seals, and when the weather was bad they 
passed the time as well as they could, the Samoyeds generally 
employing themselves in playing cards or draughts. In order 
to avoid scurvy the Samoyeds often took exercise in the open 
air, and ate reindeer flesh, partly cooked and partly raw, and 
drank the blood. They lived in the house vintil March was well 
advanced, when, for want of fuel, they were obliged to hew it 

^ It is very common that the hunters in cases of importance and danger, 
when it is difficult to settle what course ought to be taken, permit tlie 
drawing of lots to determine the choice. 

VI.] LOST. 235 

down. Instead they removed into a tent of reindeer skin. 
These Samoyeds appear to have been Christians in name, 
though they must have had strange ideas of their new God. 
When, for instance, they saw a seal and missed shooting it, they 
shot at the sun, because they believed that God was angry 
with them. They hved in a sort of marriage, but if the man 
became unfriendly to the woman, or tired of her, he could 
take another; they had no clocks, but, notwithstanding, had a 
tolerably good idea of time by the help of the stars and the 
sun ; instead of an almanac they used a piece of wood, in which 
for every day they cut a notch. Although they sometimes 
quarrelled with and threatened one another, they were, however, 
on the whole friendly, and reasonable, and showed much kind- 
ness to the four shipwrecked men, whom they provided with 
warm skin clothes, and during the whole time with food in 
abundance, according to their circumstances, so that they did 
not suffer any want. 

Ole Andreas Olsen and Henrik Nilsen had, when they were 
separated in the snowstorm from the sledge party, half a pound 
of flesh and their guns, and nothing more. They did not 
succeed in finding any game, and though they were not very 
far from the house, they required three days and a half to get 
back to it. In the meantime, also, these two comrades in mis- 
fortune had been separated. Henrik Nilsen found the house 
first, Hghted a fire, roasted and ate some pieces of fox flesh that 
he found remaining. Ole Andreas Olsen, who in desperation 
had endeavoured to quench his thirst with sea-water, was so 
weak that, when late at night he came to the boat, he could not 
crawd up to the house. He had kept himself in life by eating 
snow and devouring large pieces of his " pesk," which was 
made of the raw hides of reindeer he had previously shot. 
After having lain a while in the boat he crept up to the house, 
where he found Henrik sleeping by the fire, which was not yet 
quite extinguished. The following day they both began to 
make arrangements for a lengthened stay in the house. But 
here they found nothing, neither food, household furniture, nor 
aught else. Nor did they succeed at first in getting any game ; 
and for more than a fortnight they sustained life by boiling and 
gnawing the flesh from the bones of the reindeer, the seal, and 
the bear, that lay under the snow, remains from the Russian 
hunting excursions of the preceding year. Finally, befor(j 
Christmas they succeeded in killing a reindeer. Their lucifors 
were now done, but they lighted a fire by loading their guns with 
a mixture of which gunpowder formed a part, and firing into 
old ropes, left behind by the Russians, which they picked 
asunder and dried. One of the Russian huts they tore down 
and used as fuel. They had neither axe nor saw, but they split 


up the fuel by meaus of a piece of irou, which they took from 
the keel of the boat, and of which they made, by hammering 
with stones, a sort of knife. Of some nails, which they also 
took from the boat, they likewise forged needles by means of 
stones ; they used reindeer sinews for thread, and of the hides 
they sewed clothes for themselves. They lived in the hut until 
some time in April. During this time they shot eleven rein- 
deer and a bear, so that they did not actually suffer hunger ; but 
in the middle of April they had powder remaining for only 
three shots, and they now saw the impossibility of supporting 
themselves longer at that place, wherefore they determined to 
go farther south, in order, if possible, to reach Vaygats Island. 
They went by land along the sea-shore, leaving the boat behind. 
After the lapse of some days they came to the same Samoyeds 
with whom the other four of the crew were, and they now re- 
mained till the middle of June with the Samoyeds, who gave 
them the same hospitable treatment as their companions in 
misfortune. When at the time specified it was determined to 
fetch the boat from the Russian hut, in order that they might 
make their way southwards, Johan Andersson, a Swede by 
birth, declared that he wished to remain with the Samoyeds, 
and was not willing to accompany the other five on their 
homeward journey. 

The latter now dragged the boat for two days over the ice ; 
but when it became too heavy they had to cut it through the 
middle and leave a half behind. Of a large sealskin, which 
they got from the Samoyeds, they made a stern to the other 
half, which they continued to drag over the ice for three days, 
until they came to open water. Then they rowed in the 
truncated boat ten days, until they reached a fast ice-border at 
the Vaygats Island, where they again fell in with Samoyeds. 
Even by these, who could speak neither Russian nor Quaen, and 
by whom they could with difficulty make themselves under- 
stood, they were well received. They remained there eight 
days and got good entertainment. These Samoyeds had tame 
reindeer, with which they sent the shipwrecked men on their 
way southwards, till they fell in with a vessel, with which four 
returned to NorAvay. Lars Larsen now did not wish to go 
home, preferring to remain with the Samoyed family which he 
had last met with. Samoyed life, however, must not be so 
pleasant after all, for in a year or two both the men who had 
remained among the Samoyeds returned home. As a reward 
for the hospitality which the shipwrecked walrus-hunters had 
received from the Samoyeds on Gooseland, the Norwegian 
Government presented them with a number of gifts, consisting 
of- clothes, pearls, breechloaders, with ammunition, &c., which 
were handed over to them with festive speeches and toasts on 


the iTtli July, 1880. During the entertainment which took 
place on this occasion on the coast of Novya Zemlaya, toasts 
were drunk in champagne, and it is said that this liquor was 
very much relished by the Samoyeds.^ 

As little as Tobiesen could any other walrus-hunter make his 
way, either in 1872 or 1873, into the Kara Sea, the entrances of 
which were during these summers blocked by a compact belt of 
ice, which extended along the east coast of Novaya Zemlya and 
Vaygats Island to the mainland. In the belief of a large 
number of experienced walrus-hunters, with whom I have 
conversed on the subject, this belt of ice was only some few 
nautical miles broad, and it is therefore probable that even in 
those years there would have been no obstacle to prevent a 
j)assage eastwards by this route in autumn. 

In 1874, on the contrary, the state of the ice became very 
favourable, and many walrus-hunters again as formerly sailed 
in all directions across the Kara Sea, which this year was also 
visited by an Englishman, Captain J. Wiggins. None of them, 
however, penetrated farther to the east or north than Johannesen, 
Carlsen, Mack, and others had done during the years 1869-70. 

It was not until the following year that the North-east 
voyages took a step forward, important both in a purely 
geographical as well as a practical point of view, when I 
succeeded in a walrus-hunting sloop, the Froevcn, commanded 
by the walrus-hunting Captain Isaksen, in sailing through 
Yugor Straits, which were passed on 2nd August, and over the 
nearly ice-free Kara Sea as far as to the mouth of the Yenisej. 
The Procveyi anchored there on the 15th August 1875, in, or 
more correctly immediately off, the same splendid haven where 
the Vega expedition lay at anchor from the 6th to the 10th 
August, 1878. Hence I sailed under various difficulties along 
Avith Dr. Stuxberg and Dr. Lundstrom and three men in a 
Nordland boat, up the river to Saostrovskoj, where we fell in 
with a steamer, in which Ave afterwards travelled to Yenisejsk. 
On leaving Port Dickson I handed over the command to Dr. 
Kjellman, who along with Dr. Theel returned by sea to Europe 
across the Kara Sea and through Matotschkin Schar, which 
Avas passed during the return voyage on the 4th to the 11th 

By this voyage of 1875 I Avas the first Avdio succeeded in 
penetrating from the Atlantic Ocean in a vessel to the mouths 
i»f the great Siberian rivers. One of the objects which the old 

1 The statements made here regarding the wintering of Tobiesen and 
his companions fire taken partly from a t-opy which I caused to be made of 
his journa], partly from an account of tli- adventures of the seven hunters, 
copied from Finmarksposteu into Aftonhku/et for 1873, No. 220. Finally, 
the account of the distribution of presents to the Samoyeds is copied from 
Norwegian journals into Aftonhladet for 1880, No. 197. 


North-east voyagers had aimed at was thus at hist accomplished, 
and that in a way that promised to be of immense practical 
importance for the whole of Siberia. The voyage was also 
regarded in that light by leading men in the great empire of 
the East, and our return journey from Yenisejsk by Krasnojarsk, 
Tomsk, Omsk, Yekaterineburg, Nischni-Novgorod, Moscow'and 
St. Petersburg, became therefore a journey from fete to fete,. 
But a number of voices were simultaneously raised, which 
asserted that the success of the Procvcn depended on an 
accidental combination of fortunate circumstances, which would 
not soon occur again. In order to show that this was not the 
case, and that I might myself bring the first goods by sea to 
Siberia, I undertook my second voyage to the Yenisej in 1876, 
in which I penetrated with the steamer Tmer, not only to the 
rao\;th of the river, but also up the river to the neighbourhood 
of Yakovieva in 71° N.L. Hence I returned the same year by 
sea to Europe.^ In the gulf of Yenisej a large island was 
discovered, which I named after Mr. Alexander Sibiriakoff, who 
defrayed the principal expenses of the expedition. Before 
starting on this voyage, I visited the Philadelphia Exhibition, 
and it may perhaps deserve to be mentioned, that leaving 
New York on the 1st July by one of the ordinary steamers, 
and going on board my own vessel in Norway, I reached 
the mouth of the Yenisej on the 1.5th August, that is to say, 
in forty-six days. 

The same year Captain Wiggins also undertook a voyage to 
the Yenisej, in which he penetrated with a steamer up the 
river beyond the labyrinth of islands lying between 70° and 
71° N.L. The vessel wintered there, but was lost the following 
spring at the breaking up of the ice.^ 

The voyages of the Proeven and the Ymcr led to several 
purely commercial voyages to the Yenisej and the Ob, of which 
however I can here with the greatest brevity mention only 
the following : 

The Swedish steamer Frascr, commanded by the German 
Captain Dallmann, after having been fitted out at Gothenburg 
on Sibiriakoff 's account, sailed in 1877 with a cargo from Bremen 

^ The dates of the Ymer'a voyage are as follows: — Left the coast of 
Norway on the 26th July ; stay at Matotschkin Sound, through which I, 
on this occasion, steamed into the Kara Sea from the .30th July to the 
5th August; arrival at the Yenisej on the 15th August; arrival at the 
anchorage at Goltschicha on the 16th August ; commenced the return 
voyage on the 1st September, in the course of it passed Matotschkin Schar 
on the 7tli September. 

- Of Captain Wiggins' voyage I know only that his original destination 
was the Ob, but that on account of currents and shoals which he 
encountered at the mouth of this river, he altered his plan, and reached 
the Yenisej in the beginning of September. 




to the Yenisei and back. The vessel left Hammerfest on the 
th August, arrived at Goltschicha on the 21st August, com- 
menced the return voyage on the 14th September, and on 
the 24th of the same month was back at Hammerfest. 

The steamer Louise commanded by Captain Dahl, with 
a cargo of iron, olive oil, and sugar, the same year made 
the first voyage from England to Tobolsk, starting from 
Hull on the 18tli July and arriving at Tobolsk on the 20th 

Captain ScHWANENBERG sailed in a half-decked sloop, the 
Vtrcnnaja Saria, from the Yenisej to Europe. To what has 


been already said of this voyage, I may here add a few words 


Daring the inundation in the spring of 1877, Avhich com- 
pelled the mate jS'ummelin to betake himself for eight days to 
the roof of the fragile dwelling in Avhich he had passed the 
winter, the Yenisejsk-built vessel, the Aurora (or Sewcrnoe Sianie) 
was lost. Schwanenberg, who soon afterwards came to the 
neighbourhood, succeeded in purchasing from an Englishman, 
Mr. Seebohm, another little vessel, which was also built at 

^ Deutsche Geographische Blatter, Bremen, 1870, i. p. 21G, and ii. p. 35, 




Yenisejsk by Mr. Boiling for the purpose of transporting thither 
the goods which I had carried in the Ymer to Korepovskoj, a 
simovic on the bank of the Yenisej in. 71° 19' N.L. The 
goods however had been taken up the river by a steamer, on 
which account the vessel was sold by Boiling to Mr. Seebohra, • 
who made an excursion in it to the lower courses of tlie 
Yenisej for ornithological researches. He named the vessel the 
Ibis. When Mr. Seebohm no longer required it, there was at 
first a proposal that it shoukl be taken over by Captain Wiggins, 
who, as has been already stated, had the year before come to 


Born in Courland in 1831. 

the Yenisej with a small steimer, which wintered at the islands 
in the river, and had now stranded during the breaking up of 
the ice. He wished to carry his men on the Ibis either home 
or to the Ob, but the Englisli seamen declared that they would 
not for all the world's honour and riches sail in that vessel. 
Schwanenberg had thus an opportunity of purchasing the 
vessel, whose name he altered to the Utrennaja Saria (the 
Dawn), and to the surprise of all experienced seamen he 
actually made a successful passage to Norway. The vessel 
was then towed along the coast to G(jthenburg, and through 


the Gota Canal to Stockholm, and finally crossed the Baltic 
to St. Petersburg. 

On the loth August Schwanenberg hoisted the Russian flag 
on his little vessel. During his outward passage he met, in the 
mouth of the Yenisej, Sibiriakoff's steamer the Fraser, Captain 
Dallmann, who in vain endeavoured to dissuade him from pro- 
secuting the adventurous voyage. He anchored at Beli Ostrov 
on the 24th August, passed the Kara Port on the 30th August, 
and reached Vardoe on the 11th September. The Utrcnnaja 


Born at Viborg in 1853. 

Saria arrived at Christiania on the 31st October, at Gothenburg 
on the 15th November, passed Motala on the 20th, reached 
Stockholm on the 23rd November and St. Petersburg on the 
3rd December. Everywhere in Scandinavia the gallant seamen 
met with the heartiest reception. Their vessel was the first 
that sailed from the town of Yenisejsk to Europe, and is still, 
when this is being written, the only one. 

The Dawn is 56 feet long, 14 feet beam, and draws 6 feet of 
water. Aft there is a little cabin in which there is scant space 





for three men. Cooking is done in the fore. The cargo con- 
sisted of a small quantity of graphite, fish, furs, and other 
samples of the products of Siberia.' 

The vessel was manned by Captain Schwanenberg, the mates 


Nummelin and Meywaldt, and two exiled criminals, who in this 
unexpected way returned to their native country. I take it for 
granted that by the rare nautical exploit they took part in, they 
there won foro'iveness for former offences. 

Map of Cape BOLVAN on Waygats bland. 



Departure from Port Dickson — Landing on a rocky island east of tha 
Yenisej — Self-dead animals — Discovery of crystals on the surface of 
the drift-ice — Cosmic dust — Stay in Actinia Bay — Joliannesen's dis- 
covery of the island Ensamheten — Arrival at Cape Chelyuskin — The 
natural state of the land and sea there — Attempt to penetrate riglit 
eastwards to the New Siberian Islands — The effect of the mist — 
Abundant dredging-yield — Preobrasehenie Island — Separation from the 
Lena at the mouth of the river Lena, 

When on the morning of the 9th August the Frascr and 
Express sailed for the point higher up the river where their 
cargo was lying, the Vega and the Lena were also ready to sail. 
I, however, permitted the vessels to remain at Port Dickson a 
day longer, in order to allow Lieutenant Bove to finish his 
survey, and for the purpose of determining astronomically, if 
possible, the position of this important place. In consequence 
of a continuous fog, however, I had as little opportunity of 
doing so on this occasion as during the voyage of 1875, which 
serves to show of what sort the weather is during summer at 
the place where the warm water of the Yenisej is poured into 
the Arctic Ocean. It was thus not until the morning of the 
lOtli August that the Vega and the Lena weighed anchor in 
order to continue their voyage. The course was shaped for the 
most westerly of the islands, which old maps place off the 
estuary-bay of the Pjasina, and name Kammenni Ostrova 
(Stone Islands), a name which seems to indicate that in their 
natural state they correspond to the rocky islands about Port 
Dickson. The sky was hid by mist, the temperature of the air 
rose to + 10°"4 C. ; that of the water was at first -f 10°, after- 
wards -f 8° ; its salinity at the surface of the sea was inconsider- 
able. No ice was seen during the course of the day. Favoured 
by a fresh breeze from the south-east, the Vega could thus 
begin her voyage with all sail set. Small rocky islands, which 
are not to be found on the chart, soon reminded us of the 
untrustworthiness of the maps. This, together with the pre- 
vailing fog, compelled Captain Palander to sail forward with 
great caution, keeping a good outlook and sounding constantly. 
Warm weather and an open sea were also favourable for the 
next day's voyage. But the fog now became so dense, that the 
Vega had to lie-to in the morning at one of the many small 
islands which we still met with on our way. 

Dr. Kjellman, Dr. Almquist, Lieutenant Nordquist, and I, 
lauded here. The bare and utterly desolate island consisted of 
a low gneiss rock, rising here and there into cliffs, which were 

K 2 


shattered by the frost and rather richly clothed with lichens. 
On the more low-lying places the rock was covered with a layer 
of gravel, which, through drying and consequent contraction, 
had burst into six-sided figures, mostly from 3 to 0'5 metre in 
diameter. The intei-ior of the figures was completely bare of 
vegetation, only in the cracks there was to be seen an exceed- 
ino-ly scanty growth of stunted mosses, lichens, and flowering 
plants. Of the last-named group there were found fifteen 
spacies/ which could with success, or more correctly without 
succumbing, survive the struggle for existence on the little poor 
archipelago, protected by no mountain heights, from the storms 
of the Polar Sea ; but of these species, perhaps a couple seldom 
develop any flowers. The mosses, too, were in great part 
without fruit, with the exception of those which grew on the 
margin, formed of hard clay covered with mud, of a pool, filled 
with brackish water and lying close to the sea-margin. A large 
number of pieces of driftwood scattered round this pool showed 
that the place was occasionally overflow^ed with sea- water, which 
thus appears to have been favourable to the development of the 
mosses. Of lichens Dr. Almquist found a number of species, 
well developed, and occurring in comparative abundance. On 
the contrary, the sea, although the surrounding rocky islands 
indicated a good bottom for algi^e, was so completely destitute of 
the higher algae, that only a single microscopic species Avas 
found by Dr. Kjellman. No mammalia were seen, not even the 
usual inhabitant of the desolate rocky islands of the Polar Sea, 
the Polar bear, wdio, in regions where he has not made acquaint- 
ance with the hunter's ball or lance, in secure reliance on his 
hitherto unvanquished might, seldom neglects to scrutinise the 
newly arrived guests from the tops of high rocks or ice-blocks. 
We saw here only six species of birds. The first of these that 
attracted our attention was the snow-bunting, which had left 
the more fertile mountain heights of the south to choose this 
bare and desolate island in the Arctic Ocean for its breeding- 
place, and now fluttered round the stone mounds, where it had 
its nest, with unceasing twitter, as if to express its satisfaction 
with its choice. Further, two species of waders, Tringa mari- 
tima and PJialaropits fulicaHus, were observed running restlessly 
about the beach to collect their food, which consists of insects. 

1 Namel}', according to Dr. Kjellman' s determination, the following 

Saxifraga oppositifolia L. Cerastium alpinum L. 

,, rivularis L. Alsine macrocarpa Fexzl. 

,, csespitosa L. Sagina nivalis Fr. 

Cardamine bellidifolia L. Salix polaris Wg. 

, Coclilearia fenestrata R. Br. Glyceria vilfoidea (Ands.) Th. Fk. 

Ranunculus hyperborens Rotit.. Catabrosa algida (Sol.) Fr. 

Stellaria Edwardsii E. Br. Aira csespitosa L. 

Juncus bio:lumis L. 


The birds that were killed often had their crops full of the 
remains of insects, although living at a place where the 
naturalist has to search for hours to find a dozen gnats or their 
equals in size, a circumstance that tells very favourably for these 
birds' power of vision, of locomotion, and of apprehension. It 
is difficult in any case to understand what it is that attracts this 
insectivorous bird to one of the regions that is poorest in insect 
life in the whole world. The glaucous gulls' plunderer, the 
skua, and its chastiser the bold tern, were also observed, as were a 
few barnacle geese. On the other hand, no eiders were met with. 
All the birds named occurred only in inconsiderable numbers, and 


On the morning of the 12th August, 1S7S. (After a drawing by O. Nordquist.) 

there was nothing found here resembling the life which prevails 
on a Spitzbergen fowl-island. Finally, it may be mentioned 
that Lieutenant Nordquist found under stones and pieces of 
drift-wood a few insects, among them a beetle (a staphylinid). 
Dr. Stuxberg aftenvards found a specimen of the same insect 
species at Cape Cheljnjskin itself. No beetle is found on Spitz- 
bergen, though the greater portion of that group of islands is, 
in respect of climate, soil, and vegetation, much better favoured 
than the region now in question. This seems to me to show 
that the insect fauna of Spitzbergen, exceedingly inconsiderable 
and limited in numbers as it is, has migrated thither in com- 
paratively recent times, and in how high a degree the migration 


of beetles is rendered difficult by their inability to pass broad 
expanses of water. 

By afternoon the air bad again cleared somewhat, so that we 
could sail on. A piece of ice was seen here and there, and at 
night the ice increased for a little to an unpleasant extent. 
Now, however, it did not occur in such quantity as to prove an 
obstacle to navigation in clear weather or in known waters. 

On the 12th August .we still sailed through considerable 
fields of scattered drift-ice, consisting partly of old ice of large 
dimensions, partly of very rotten year's ice. It formed, how- 
ever, no serious obstacle to our advance, and nearer the shore 
we would probably have had quite open water, but of course it 
Avas not advisable to go too near land in the fog and unknown 
waters, without being obliged. A large number of fish (Gadus 
2)olaris) were seen above the foot of a large block of ground ice, 
near which we lay-to for some hours. Next day we saw near one 
of the islands, where the water was very clear, the sea-bottom 
bestrewed with innumerable fish of the same species. They 
had probably perished from the same cause, which often kills 
fish in the river Ob in so great numbers that the water is in- 
fected, namely, from a large shoal of fish having been enclosed 
by ice in a small hole, where the water, when its surface has 
frozen, could no longer by absorption from the air replace 
the oxygen consumed, and where the fish have thus been 
literally drowned. I mention this inconsiderable Jind of some 
self-dead fish, because self-dead vertebrate animals, even fish, 
are found exceedingly seldom. Such Jinds therefore deserve to 
be noted with much greater care than, for instance, the occur- 
rence of animal species in the neighbourhood of places where 
they have been seen a thousand times before. During my nine 
expeditions in the Arctic regions, where animal life during 
summer is so exceedingly abundant, the case just mentioned 
has been one of the few in which I have found remains of recent 
vertebrate animals which could be proved to have died a natural 
death. Near hunting-grounds there are to be seen often enough 
the remains of reindeer, seals, foxes, or birds that have died 
from gunshot wounds, but no self-dead Polar bear, seal, walrus, 
white whale, fox, goose, auk, lemming or other vertebrate. The 
Polar bear and the reindeer are found there in hundreds, the 
seal, walrus, and white whale in thousands, and birds in millions.^ 
These animals must die a "natural" death in untold numbers 
What becomes of their bodies ? Of this we have for the 
present no idea, and yet we have here a problem of immense 

1 I can remember only one other instance of finding self-dead vertebrate 
animals, viz. when in 1873, as has already been stated (p. 86), I found 
a large number of dead rotges on the ice at the mouth of Hinloopen 


importance for the answering of a large number of questions 
concerning the formation of fossiliferous strata. It is strange 
m any case that on Spitzbergen it is easier to find vertebrae of 
a gigantic lizard of the Trias, than bones of a self-dead seal, 
walrus, or bird, and the same also holds good of more southerly 
inhabited lands. 

On the 13th August we again sailed past a large number of 
small rocks or islands. The sea was at first pretty free of ice, 
but was afterwards bestrewed with even, thin j^iecesof drift-ice, 
which were not forced up on each other, and thus had not been 
exposed in winter to any ice-pressure. This ice did not cause 
any inconvenience to the navigation, but at the same time all 
was wrapt in a very close mist, which soon compelled us to 
anchor near the shore in a little bay. I endeavoured without 
success to determine the position of the place by astronomical 
observations. Along the shore there still remained nearly 
everywhere a pretty high snow and ice-foot, which in "the fog 
presented the appearance of immense glaciers. The land be- 
sides was free of ice. In respect of its geological formation and 
its animals and plants it resembled completely the island I have 
just described. But the sea-water here was clear and salt, and 
the dredging therefore yielded to Dr. Kjellman some large alga^, 
and to Dr. Stuxberg; a large number of marine e vertebrates. 

When the fog lightened, we immediately steamed on, but we 
had scarcely got to sea before we were again wrapped in so close 
a fog that we were compelled to lie-to for the night beside a 
large jDiece of drift-ice. The hempen tangles were used, and 
brought up a very abundant yield of large, beautiful animal 
forms, a large number of asterids, Astrophyton, Antedon, &c. 
There was besides made here an exceedingly remarkable, and 
to me still, vvhile I write, a very enigmatical find. 

For 'several years back I have been zealous for the examina- 
tion of all substances of the nature of dust which fall to the 
surface of the earth with rain or snow, and I have proved that a 
portion of them is of cosmic origin. This inconsiderable fall of 
dust is thus of immense importance for the history of the de- 
velopment of our globe, and we regard it, besides, with the 
intense interest which we inevitably cherish for all that brings 
us an actual experience regarding the material world beyond 
our globe. The inhabited countries of the earth, however, are 
less suitable for such investigations, as the particles of cosmic 
dust falling down here in very limited quantity can only with 
difficulty be distinguished from the dust of civilization, arising 
from human dwellings, from the offal of industry, from furnaces 
and the chimneys of steam-engines. The case is quite different 
on the snow and ice-fields of the High North, remote from 
human habitations and the tracks of steamers. Every foreign 


Antedon EschricMii, J. Muller. 
Three-fifths of the natural size. 




grain of dust can here be easily distinguished and removed, 
and there is a strong probability that the offal of civilization 
is here nearly wholly wanting. It is self-evident from this 
that I would not be disposed to neglect the first opportunity 
for renewed investigations in the direction indicated, which 
our involuntary rest at the drift-ice field offered. 

Immediately after the Vega lay-to, I therefore went down on 
the ice in order to see whether here too some such metalliferous 
dust, as I had before found north of Spitzbergen, was not to be 
found on the surface of the ice. Nothing of the kind, however, 
was to be seen. On the other hand. Lieutenant Nordquist 
observed small yellow spjcks in the snow, which I asked him to 
collect and hand oxev for investigation to Dr. Kjellman. For I 
supposed that the specks consisted of diatom ooze. After exa- 
mining them Dr. Kjellman however declared that they did not 
consist of any organic substance, 
but of crystallised grains of sand. 
I too now examined them more 
closely, but unfortunately not until 
the morning after we had left the 
ice-field, and then found that the 
supposed ooze consisted of pale 
yellow crystals (not fragments of 
crystals) without mixture of foreign 
matter. The quantity of crystals, 
which were obtained from about 
three litres of snow, skimmed from 
the surface of the snow on an 
area of at most 10 square metres, 

amounted to nearly 02 gram. The crystals were found only 
near the surface of the snow, not in the deeper layers. 
They were up to 1 mm. in diameter, had the appearance 
shown in the accompan}'tng woodcut, and appeared to 
belong to the rhombic system, as they Jiad one perfect 
cleavage and formed striated prisms terminated at either 
end by truncated pyramids. Unfortunately I could not make 
any actual measurements of them, because after being kept 
for some time in the air they weathered to a white non- 
crystalline powder. They lay, without being sensibly dissolved, 
for a whole night in the water formed by the nielting of the 
snow. On being heated, too, they fell asunder into a tasteless 
white powder. The white powder, that was formed by the 
weathering of the crystals, was analysed after our return— 21 
months after the discovery of the crystals — and was found to 
contain only carbonate of lime. 

The original composition and origin of this substance appears 
to me exceedingly enigmatical. It was not common carbonate 


Found on the ice off the Taimur coast. 
•Magnified thirty to forty times. 


of lime, for the crystals were rlioraboliedral and did not show 
the cleavage of calcite. Nor can there be a question of 
its being arragonite, because this mineral might indeed fall 
asunder "of itself," but in that case the newly-formed powder 
ought to be crystalline. Have the crystals originally been a 
new hydrated carbonate of lime, formed by crystallising out 
of the sea-water in intense cold, and then losing its water 
at a temperature of 10° or 20° above the freezing-point ? In 
such a case they ought not to have been found on the surflice of 
the S710W, but lower down on the surflice of the ice. Or have 
they fallen down from the inter-planetary spaces to the surface 
of the earth, and before crumbling down have had a composition 
differing from terrestrial substances in the same way as various 
chemical compounds found in recent times in meteoric stones ? 
The occurrence of the crystals in the uppermost layer of snow 
and their falling asunder in the air, tell in favour of this view. 
Unfortunately there is now no possibility of settling these 
questions, but at all events this discovery is a further incitement 
to those who travel in the High North to collect with extreme 
care, from snow-fields lying far from the ordinary routes of com- 
munication, all foreign substances, though apparently of trifling 

As this question can be answered with the greatest ease and 
certainty by investigations in the Polar regions, I shall here, for 
the guidance of future travellers, enumerate some discoveries 
of a like nature which have been made by me, or at ray instance. 

1. In the beginning of December, 1871, there happened at 
Stockholm an exceedingly heavy fall of snow, perhaps the 
heaviest which has taken place in the memory of man. Several 
persons perished in the snow in the immediate neighbourhood 
of Stockholm. During the last days of the snowfall I had 
about a cubic metre of snow collected and melted in a vessel. 
It left a residue of black powder, which contained grains of 
metallic iron that were attracted by the magnet. 

2. In the middle of March, 1872, a similar investigation was 
made by my brother, Karl Noedenskiold, in a remote forest 
settlement, Evois, in Finland. Here, too, was obtained, on 
the melting of the snow, a small residuum, consisting of a 
black powder containing metallic iron. 

3. On the 8th August and 2nd September of the same year, 
I examined, north of Spitzbergen, in 80° N.L., and 13° to 15° 
E.L., the layer of snow that there covered the ice. The nature 
of this layer is shown by the accompanying woodcut, in which 
1, is new-fallen snow ; 2, a layer of hardened old snow, eight 
mm. in thickness ; 3, a layer of snow conglomerated to a 
crystalline granular mass ; and 4, common granular hardened 
snow. Layer 3 was full of small black grains, among which 




were found numerous metallic particles that were attracted by 
the magnet, and were found to contain iron, cobalt, and possibly 
nickel also. 

4. On the melting of 500 gram, hail, which fell in Stockholm 
in the autumn of 1873, similar metallic particles containing 
cobalt (nickel) were obtained, which, in this case, might possibly 
have come from the neighbouring roofs, because the hail was 
collected in a yard surrounded by houses roofed with sheet-iron 
painted red. The black colour of the metallic particles enclosed 
in the hail, their position in the haij, and finally, the cobalt 
they contained, however, indicate in this case too, a quite 
different origin. 

5. In a dust (kryokonite), collected on the inland ice of 
Greenland in the month of July, 1870, 
there were also found mixed with it grains 
of metallic iron, containing cobalt. The 
main mass consisted of a crystalline, double- 
refracting silicate, drenched through with an 
ill-smelling organic substance. The dust 
was found in large quantities at the bottom 
of innumerable small holes in the surface of 
the inland ice. This dust could scarcely be 
of volcanic origin, because by its crystalline 
structure it differs completely from the 
glass-dust that is commonly thrown out of 
volcanoes, and is often carried by the wind 
to very remote regions, as also from the 
dust which, on the 30th March, 1875, fell 
at many places in the middle of Scandinavia, 
and which was proved to have been thrown 
out by volcanoes on Iceland. For, while 
kryokonite consists of small angular double- 
refracting crystal-fragments without any 
mixture of particles of glass, the volcanic 

Haga-dust^ consists almost wholly of small microscopic glass 
bubbles that have no action on the polarisation-planes of the 
light that passes through them. 

1 I use this name because the ash-rain of March 1875 was first observed 
at Haga palace near Stockholm, and thus at the outer limit of the known 
area of distribution of the dust. It was first through the request whicli 
in consequence of this observation was published in the newspapers, tluit 
communications regarding singular observations in other quarters should 
be sent to the Swedish Academy of Sciences, that it became known that 
a similar rain had about the same time taken place over a very large part 
of middle Sweden and Korway. The dust however did not fall evenly, 
but distributed iu spots, and at several different times. The distance 
from Stockholm of the volcanoes, where the outbreak took place, is nearly 
2000 kilometres. 

80° N.L. 

One-half the natural size. 


Similar investigations have since been made, among others, 
by M. TisSANDiER in Paris, and during Naees' English Polar 

It may appear to many that it is below the dignity of science 
to concern one's self with so trifling an affair as the fall of a 
small quantity of dust. But this is by no means the case. For 
I estimate the quantity of the dust that was found on the ice 
north of Spitzbergen at from O'l to 1 milhgram per square 
metre, and probably the whole fall of dust for the year far 
exceeded the latter figure. But a milligram on every square 
metre of the surface of the earth amounts for the whole globe 
to five hundred million kilograms (say half a million tons) ! 
Such a mass collected year by year during the geological ages, 
of a duration probably incomprehensible by us, forms too im- 
portant a factor to be neglected, when the fundamental facts of 
the geological history of our planet are enumerated. A con- 
tinuation of these investigations will perhaps show, that our 
globe has increased gradually from a small beginning to the 
dimensions it now possesses ; that a considerable quantity of the 
constituents of our sedimentary strata, especially of those that 
have been deposited in the open sea far from land, are of cosmic 
origin ; and will throw an unexpected light on the origin of the 
fire-hearths of the volcanoes, and afford a simple explanation of 
the remarkable resemblance which unmistakably exists between 
plutonic rocks and meteoric stones.^ 

On the 14th August, when the fog had lightened a little, we 
got up steam, but were soon compelled to anchor again in a bay 
running into Taimur Island from the north side of Taimur 
Sound, which I named Actinia Bay, from the large number of 
Mctinia Avhicli the dredge brought up there. It is, besides, not 
the only place in the Kara Sea which might be named from 
the evertebrate life prevailing there, so unexpectedly abundant. 

Unfavourable weather detained us in Actinia Bay, which 
is a good and well-protected haven, till the 18th August, 
during which time excursions were made in various directions, 
among others farther into Taimur Sound, where a variable 
strong current was found to prevail. The Sound is too shallow 
to be passed through by large vessels. The rocks round Taimur 
Sound consist of gneiss strata, which form low ridges that 
have been so shattered by the frost that they have beun con- 
verted into immense lichen- clad stone mounds. Between these 
stretch extensive valleys and plains, now tree of snow, if we 

^ Namely, by showing that tlie principal material of the plutonic and 
volcanic rocks is of cosmic origin, and that the phenomena of heat, which 
occur in these layers, depend on chemical changes to which the cosmic 
sediment, after being covered by thick terrestrial formations, is subjected. 




CO o 

r J 'f 


except a snow-drift remaining here and there in the hollows. 
The plains were all covered with a very green continuous 
vegetation, which however on a closer examination was found 
to be not a true turf, but a mixture of grasses, allied plants, and 
a large number of different kinds of mosses and lichens. Actual 
flowers were found here only sparingly.^ In this respect the 
coast tmulra shows a remarkable difference from the coast lands 
on Vaygats Island and Novaya Zemlya. On the other hand, the 
abundance of luxuriant lichens and mosses was striking. The 
mosses along the beach and the borders of the snow-drifts 
remaining here and there bore fruit in abundance. Animal life 
on land was scanty ; some few reindeer were seen, a mountain 
fox was killed, and a lemming caught. 

Only the following birds were seen : owls {Strix nydea) rather 
numerous, of which one was killed ; a species of falcon, which 
was hunted unsuccessfully ; snow buntings, breeding very gene- 
rally in the stone mounds ; a covey of snow ptarmigan, of which 
some young birds were shot ; six species of waders, the most 
common birds of the region, of which a large number were 
shot ; two kinds of gulls {Lams glaucus and tridactylus) ; Lcstris 
2mrasitica and Buffonii, the latter the more common of the two ; 
Anscr hcrnida, very common ; and finally the long- tailed duck 
{Harclda glacialis) in great flocks swimming in the Sound. 
Bird life, viewed as a whole, was still scant}'' here, in comparison 
with that which we were accustomed to see in the northern 
regions west of Novaya Zemlya. 

In the sea the higher animal life was somewhat more abun- 
dant. A walrus had been seen during the passage from the 
Yenisej, and on the ice drifting about in the Sound a number of 
seals, both Fhoca harhata and Phoca hispida, were observed. 

1 Dr. Kjellman has given the following list of the flowering plants 
collected by him in this region : — 

Cineraria frigida Richards. Poa arctica R. Br. 

Potentilla emarginata PuRSH. Arctophila peudulina (L^ST.) AxDS. 

Sasifraga stellaris L. f. comosa. Catabrosa algida (Sol.) Fr 

„ nivalis L. Colpodiam latifolium R. Br. 

„ cernua L. Dupontia Fisheri R. Br. 

., rivularis L. Pleuropogon Sabini R. Br. 

Chrvsosplenium alternifoliuin L. Aira csespitosa L. 

Cardamine bellidifolia L. Hierochloa pauciflora R. Br. 

Draba corynibosa R. Br. Calamagrostis lapponicu (Wg.) Hx. 

Papaver nudicaule L. Alopecurus a'pinus Sm. 

Hannncul'is pygin«us Wo. Eriophonimangustifoliiini Roth. 

,, hyjierboreus Rottb. ,, Scheuchzeri Hoppe. 

„ siilphiireiis SoL. Carex aquatilis Wg. 

Stellaria Edwardsii R. Br. „ rigida Good. 

Cerastiuni alpinurn L. .Junciis biglumis L. 

Alsine inacrocarpa Fexzl. L izula hyperborea R. Br. 
Salis polaris Wg. „ arctica Bl. 




This gave rise to the supposition that at the sea-bottom animal 
life was richer, which was also confirmed by the dredging yield. 
Nowhere was seen on our arrival any trace of man, but a cairn 
now indicates the place, off which the Vega and the Lena were 


Pleuropogon Sabini, R. Br. 

In this sea never before visited by any vessel, however, we 
were nearly coming in contact with a countryman. For while 
we lay at anchor in Taimur Sound, Captain Edward Johannesen 
came into the neighbourhood of the same place with his sailing 


vessel j^ordland from Tromsoe. He had left Norway on the 22nd 
May 1878, had come to Gooseland in Novaya Zemlya on the 6th 
June, and had reached the northernmost point of that island 
on the 22nd July. Here loud thunder was heard on the 26th 
July, On the 10th August he steered eastwards from Novaya 
Zemlya across the Kara Sea between 76° and 77° N.L. in open 
water. On the 16th he had the Taimur country in sicrht. 
Here he turned, and steered first to the west, then to the north. 
In 77° 31' N.L. and 86° E.L. from Greenwich he discovered and 
circumnavigated a new island, which was named "Ensamheten" 
(Solitude). The island was free of snow, but not overgrown with 
grass. The animals that were seen were some bears and bearded 
seals, terns, fulmars, ivory gulls, flocks of black guillemots, and 
a "bird with a rounded tail and long bill," probably some wader. 
On the north-east side of the island a strong northerly current 
prevailed. The remote position and desolate appearance of the 
island gave occasion to the name proposed by Johannesen. 
Hence Johannesen sailed with a great bend to the north, Avhich 
brought him to 78° N.L., back to the northern extremity of 
Novaya Zemlya, and thence on the 12th September to Norway. 
During the return voyage across the Kara Sea also scarcely any 
ice was met with.^ 

An exceedingly persistent fog prevailed during the whole 
of the time we remained here, but at last on the 18th it lif»'ht- 
ened a little. We immediately weighed anchor and steamed 
along the western shore of Taimur Island. It is surrounded by 
a large number of islands that are not given on the map, and 
pos.sibly Taimur Island itself is divided by sounds into several 
parts. During our voyage, however, the fog that was still very 
close hindered us from mapping, otherwise than in a very loose 
way, the islands, large and small, between and past which the 
Vega searched for a passage. So much we could in any case see, 
that the northern extremity of Taimur Island does not run so 
far north as the common maps show. 

Ice we met with only in small quantity, and what we saw was 
very rotten fjord or river ice. I scarcely believe that in the 
course of the day we met with a single piece of ice large enough 
to flense a seal upon. We had as yet seen no true old drift-ice 
such as is to be met with north of Spitzbergen. In resj^ect 
to the nature of the ice, there is a complete dissimilarity between 
the Kara Sea and the sea north and east of Spitzbergen. Another 
striking difference is the scarcity of warm-blooded animals 
which prevails in this region, hitherto exempted from all huntino-. 
In the course of the dav we had not seen a single bird — something 

1 H.Mohn. Diclnsel Eiiisainkeit, &.Q., with a map(Peterm:inu'ti Jlitthci- 
vngcn, 1870, p. 57). 

25r. THE VOYAGE OF THE VEGA. [chap. vii. 

which never before happened to me during a summer journey in 
the Ai'ctic regions — and scarcely any seals. 

On the 19th August we continued to sail and steam along 
the coast, mostly in a very close fog, which only at intervals 
dispersed so much that the lie of the coast could be made out. 
In order that they might not be separated, both vessels had 
often to signal to each other with the steam-whistle. The sea 
was bright as a mirror. Drift-ice was seen now and then, but 
only in small quantity and very rotten ; but in the course of the 
day we steamed past an extensive unbroken ice-field, fast to the 
land, which occupied a bay on the west side of the Chelyuskin 
peninsula. The ice, of which it consisted, appeared in the mist 
immensely rough and high, although in fact it was nearly as 
rotten as that of which the narrow belts of ice were formed 
which we now and then met with out at sea. 

The fog prevented all view far across the ice, and I already 
feared that the northernmost promontory of Asia would be so 
surrounded with ice that we could not land upon it. But soon a 
dark, ice-free cape peeped out of the mist in the north-east. A 
bay open to the north here cuts into the land, and in this bay 
both the vessels anchored on the 19th August at 6 o'clock p.m. 

We had now reached a great goal, which for centuries had 
been the object of unsuccessful struggles. For the first time a 
vessel lay at anchor off the northernmost cape of the old world. 
No wonder then that the occurrence was celebrated by a display 
of flags and the firing of salutes, and, when we returned from our 
excursion on land, by festivities on board, by ^\ine and toasts. 

As on our arrival at the Yenisej, we were received here too by 
a large Polar bear, who, even before the vessel anchored, was 
seen to go backwards and forwards on the beach, now and then 
turning his glance and his nose uneasily out to sea in order to 
investigate Avhat remarkable ouests had now for the first time 
come to his kingdom. A boat was put off to kill him. Bruse- 
witz wasthe chosen shot; but on this occasion the bear took care 
not to form any closer acquaintance with our guns. The firing 
of the salute put him so thoroughly to flight, that he did not, as 
bears are wont, return the following day. 

The north point of Asia forms a low promontory, Avhich a bay 
divides into two, the eastern arm projecting a little farther to 
the north than the western. A ridge of hills with gently slop- 
ing sides runs into the land from the eastern point, and appears 
within sight of the western to reach a height of 300 metres. 
Like the plains lying below, the summits of this range were 
nearly free of snow. Only on the hill-sides or in deep furrows 
excavated by the streams of melted snow, and in dales in the 
plains, were large white snow-fields to be seen. A low ice-foot 
still remained at most places along the shore. But no glacier 




rolled its bluish-white ice-masses down the mountain sides, and 
no inland lakes, no perpendicular cliffs, no high mountain 
summits, gave any natural beauty to the landscape, which was 
the most monotonous and the most desolate I have seen in the 
High North. 

As on the island off which we lay at anchor on the 11th 
August, the ground was everywhere burst asunder into more or 
less regular six-sided figures, the interior of which was usually 
bare of vegetation, while stunted flowering-plants, lichens and 


(After a drawing by A. Hovgaard.) 

mosses, rose out of the cracks. At some few places, however, 
the ground was covered with a carpet of mosses, lichens, grasses 
and allied plants, resembling that which I previously found at 
Actinia Bay. Yet the flowering-plants were less numerous here, 
and the mosses more stunted and bearing fruit less abundantly. 
The lichen flora was also, according to Dr. Almquist's examina- 
tion, monotonous, though very luxuriant. The plants were 
most abundant on the farthest extremity of the Cape. It 
almost appeared as if many of the plants of the Taimur country 
had attempted to migrate hence farther to the north, but meet- 
ing the sea, had stood still, unable to go farther and unwilling 


to turn. For here Dr. Kjellman found on a very limited area 
nearly all the plants of the region. The species which were 
distinctive of the vegetation here were the following : Saxifraga 
oppositifolia L., Papavcr nudicaule L., Draha alpina L., 
Cerastium alpinum L., Stdlaria Edwardsii R. Br., Alsine 
macrocarpa Fenzl., Aira cmspitosa L., Catabrosa algida (Sol.) Fr., 
and Alopecurus alpinus Sm. The following plants occurred less 
frequently: Eritrichium villosum BuNGE, Saxifraga nivalis L., 
>S'. ccrmia L., S. rivularis L., S. sicUaris L., S. caspifosa L., S. 
fiageUaris WiLLD., S. scrpyllifolia PllHSH., Cardamine hcllidifolia 
L., Cochlcaria fencstrata E,. Br., Oxyria digyna (L.) HiLL., Salix 
polaris Wg., Foa fieo:uosa Wg., and Luzula hyperhorea R. Br. 
There were thus found in all only twenty-three species of 
inconsiderable flowering-plants, among them eight species 
belonging to the Saxifrage family, a sulphur-yellow poppy, 
commonly cultivated in our gardens, and 
the exceedingly beautiful, forget-me-not- 
like Eritrichium. That the vegetation 
here on the northernmost point of Asia 
has to contend with a severe climate is 
sho^vn, among other things, as Dr. Kjell- 
man has pointed out, by most of the 
flowering-plants there having a special 
tendency to form exceedingly compact 
half-globular tufts. 

The only insects which occurred here in 
any large number were poduroe, but some 
flies were also seen, and even a beetle, the 
before-mentioned Staphylinid. Of birds, 


there were seen a large number oi sand- to the north. 

pipers, an exceedingly numerous flock Micraij-mma^Dicksoni 

of barnacle geese — evidently migrating to Magnified twelve times. 
more southerly regions, perhaps from some 

Polar land lying to the north of Cape Chelyuskin — a loom, some 
kittiwakes and ivory gulls, and remains of owls. Mammalia 
were represented by the bear already mentioned, and by the 
reindeer and the lemming, whose traces and dung were seen on 
the plains. In the sea, a walrus, several rough seals (Phoca 
hispiida), and two shoals of white whales were seen. 

All rivers were now dried up, but wide, shallow river-beds 
indicated that during the snow-melting season there was an 
abundant flow of water. The rush of snow rivulets and the cry 
of birds then certainly cause an interruption in the desolation 
and silence which were now spread over the clay beds of the 
plains, nearly bare of all vegetation. Probably, however, a little 
farther into the country, in some valley protected from the winds 
of the Polar Sea, we might find quite different natural condi- 

s 2 


Natural size. 


tions, a more abundant animal life, and a vegetable world, in 
summer, as rich in flowers as that which we meet with in the 
valleys of Ice Fjord or the " Nameless Bay" (Besimannaja Bay). 
We saw no trace of man here. The accounts, which were 
current as early as the sixteenth century, relating to the nature 
of the north point of Asia, however, make it probable that the 
Siberian nomads at one time drove their reindeer herds up 
hither. It is even not impossible that Russian hunters from 
Chatanga may have prosecuted the chase here, and that Chelyus- 
kin actually was here, of which we have evidence in the very 
correct way in which the Cape, that now rightly bears his name, 
is laid down on the Russian maps.^ 

The rocks consist of a clay-slate, with crystals resembling 
chiastolite and crystals of sulphide of iron interspersed. At the 
Cape itself tlie clay-slate is crossed by a thick vein of pure white 
quartz. Here, according to an old custom of Polar travellers, a 
stately cairn was erected. 

In order to get a good astronomical determination of the 
position of this important point I remained there until the 
20th August at noon. The Leiia was ordered to steam out 
to dredge during this time. Eight minutes north of the 
bay, where we lay at anchor, heavy and very close ice was 
met with. There the depth of the sea increased rapidly. 
Animal life at the sea-bottom was ver}^ abundant, among other 
things ia large asterids and ophiurids. 

According to the plan of the voyage I now wished to steam 
from this point right eastw-^a'ds towards the New Siberian 
Islands, in order to see if we should fall in with land on the 
way. On the 20th and 21st we went forward in this direc- 
tion among scattered driftice, which was heavier and less 
broken up than that which we had met with on the 

1 This has been doubted by Russian geograiiliers. Von Baer for instance 
says : — 

"Dariiber ist gar kein Zweifel, dass dieses Vorgebirge nie umsegelt 
ist, und dass es auf einera Irrthum beruhte, wenn Laptew auf einer Seefahrt 
die Bucht, in welche der Taimur sich miindet, erreicht zu haben glaubte. 
Seine eigenen spjiteren Fahrten erwiesen diesen Irrthum. Die Vergleichung 
der Berichte und Verlialtnisse lasst mich aber auch glauben, dass selbst zu 
Lande man das Ende dieses Vorgebirges nie erreicht habe ; sondern 
Tscheljuskin, um dieser, man kann wohl sagen, grasslichen Versuche 
endlich iiberhoben zu seyn, sich zu der ungegriindeten Behauptung ent- 
schloss, er habe das Ende gesehen, und sich iiberzeugt, Sibirien sei nach 
Norden iiberall vom Meere umgranzt,'' [statement by von Baer in Neueste 
Nachrichten iiber die n'drdlichste Gegend von Siherien ; von Baer and von 
Helmersen, Beitrage zur Kenntniss des KussiscJien Reiches. IV. St. Petersburg, 
1841, p. 275]. In the following page in the same paper von Baer indeed 
says that he will not lay any special weight on Strahlenberg's statement that 
Siberia and Novaya Zemlya hang together, but he appears to believe that 
they are connected by a bridge of perpetual ice. 




other side of Taimur Land, but without meeting with any 
serious obstacles. We fell in also with some very large ice- 
floes, but not with any icebergs. We were besides again 
attended by so close a mist that we could only see ice-fields 

and pieces of ice in the 
immediate neighbourhood 
of the vessel. Besides 
species of Lestris and 
kittiwakes we now also 
saw looms, birds that are 
almost wanting in the Kara 
Sea. Johannesen was of 
opinion that the presence 
of these birds showed that 
the sea is not completely 
frozen over in winter, 
because it is not probable 
that the loom in autumn 
and spring would fly across 
the frozen Kara Sea to 
seek in this distant region 
their food and their breed- 

The night before the 
22nd we steamed through 
pretty close ice. The whole 
day so thick a fog still 
prevailed that we could 
not see the extent of the 
ice-fields in the neigh- 
bourhood of the vessel. 
Towards noon we were, 
therefore, compelled to 
take a more southerly 
course. When we found 
that we could not advance 
in this direction, we lay- 
to at a large ice-floe, wait- 
ing for clear weather, until 
in the afternoon the fog 
aofain lightened somewhat, 
so that we could continue 
our voyage. But it was 
not long before the fog again became so thick that, as the 
sailors say, you could cut it with a knife. There was now 
evidently a risk that the Vega, while thus continuing to "box the 
compass " in the ice- labyrinth, in which we had entangled our- 


Ophiacantha bidentata, Eetz. 
One and one-third of the natural .size. 


selves, would meet with the same fate that befell the Tegcttlioff. 
In order to avoid this, it became necessary to abandon our 
attempt to sail from Cape Chelyuskin straight to the New 
Siberian Islands, and to endeavour to reach as soon as possible 
the open water at the coast. 

When it cleared on the morning of the 23rd, we therefore 
began again to steam forward among the fields of drift-ice, but 
now not with the intention of advancing^ in a griven direction, 
but only of getting to open water. The ice-fields we now met 
Avith were very much broken up, which was an indication that 
we could not be very far from the edge of the pack. But 
notwithstanding this, all our attempts to find penetrable ice in an 
easterly, westerly, or southerly direction were unsuccessful. We 
had thus to search in a northerly direction for the opening by 
which we had sailed in. This was so much the more unpleasant 
as the wind had changed to a pretty fresh N.W. breeze, ou 
which account, with the Vegas weak - steam-power, we couhl 
make way only slowly. It was not until 6.30 p.m. that we at 
last came to the sack-formed opening in the ice through which 
we had sailed in at noon of the previous day. 

One can scarcely, without having experienced it, form any 
idea of the optical illusions, which are produced by mist, in 
regions where the size of the objects which are visible through 
the fog is not known beforehand, and thus does not give the 
spectator an idea of the distance. Our estimate of distance 
and size in such cases depend wholly on accident. The obscure 
contours of the fog-concealed objects themselves, besides, are 
often by the ignorance of the spectator converted into whimsical 
fantastic forms. During a boat journey in Hinloopen Strait I 
once intended to row among drift-ice to an island at a distance 
of some few kilometres. When the boat started the air was 
clear, but while we were employed, as best we could, in shoot- 
ing sea-fowl for dinner, all was wrapt in a thick mist, and 
that so unexpectedly, that we had not time to take the bearings 
of the island. This led to a not altogether pleasant row by 
guess among the pieces of ice that were drifting about in 
rapid motion in the sound. All exerted themselves as much as 
possible to get sight of the island, whose beach would afford 
us a safe resting-place. While thus occupied, a dark border 
was seen through the mist at the horizon. It was taken for 
the island which we were bound for, and it was not at first 
considered remarkable that the dark border rose rapidly, for we 
thought that the mist was dispersing and in consequence of that 
more of the land was visible. Soon two white snow-fields, that 
we had not observed before, were seen on both sides of the land, 
and immediately after this was changed to a sea-monster, re- 
sembling a walrus-head, as large as a mountain. This got life 


and motion, and finally sank all at once to the head of a common 
walrus, which lay on a piece of ice in the neighbourhood of the 
boat ; the white tusks formed the snow-fields and the dark-brown 
round head the mountain. Scarce was this illusion gone when 
one of the men cried out " Land right a head — high land ! " We 
now all saw before us a high Alpine region, with mountain peaks 
and glaciers, but this too sank a moment afterwards all at once to 
a common ice-border, blackened with earth. In the spring of 
1873 Palander and I with nine men made a sledge journey round 
North-east Land. In the course of this journey a great many 
bears were seen and killed. When a bear was seen while w^e 
were dragging our sledges forward, the train commonly stood 
still, and, not to frighten the bear, all the men concealed them- 
selves behind the sledges, with the exception of the marksman, 
who, squatting down in some convenient place, waited till his 
prey should come sufficiently within range to be killed with 
certainty. It happened once during foggy weather on the ice at 
Wahlenberg Bay that the bear that was expected and had been 
clearly seen by all of us, instead of approaching with his usual 
supple zigzag movements, and with his ordinary attempts to nose 
himself to a sure insight into the fitness of the foreigners for 
food, just as the marksman took aim, spread out gigantic wings 
and flew away in the form of a small ivory gull. Another time 
during the same sledge journey we heard from the tent in which 
we rested the cook, who was employed outside, cry out : " A bear ! 
a great bear! No! a reindeer, a very little reindeer!" The 
same instant a well-directed shot Avas fired, and the bear-rein- 
deer was found to be a very small fox, which thus paid with 
its life for the honour of having for some moments played the 
part of a big animal. From these accounts it may be seen 
how difficult navigation among drift-ice must be in unkownn 

On the two occasions on which the vessel was anchored to 
ice-floes the trawl-net was used, and the hempen tangles. The 
net was drawn forward slowly with the ice which was drifting to 
the north-west before a fresh S.E. breeze which was blowing 
at the time. The yield of the trawling was extraordinarily 
abundant ; large asterids, crinoids, sponges, holothuria, a 
gigantic sea-spider (Pycnogonid), masses of worms, Crustacea, &c. 
It vxis the most abundant yield that the trawl-net at any one time 
brought up during the whole of our voyage round the coast of Asia, 
and this from the sea off the northern extremity of that 

Among the forms collected here we may specially refer to 
the large sea-spider, of which a drawing is given (p. 265) 
and three specimens of small stalked crinoids. The depth 
varied between 60 and 1 00 metres. The temperature of the 


water was at the surface + 0° to — 0°'6 ; at the bottom — 1°*4 to 
1°'G ; its saHnity was considerable, both at the bottom, where it 
was very nearly equal to that of the other great oceans, and at 
the surface, where it was indeed about a fifth-part less, but 

,—. ^ 

yet much greater than that of the surface-water in the Kara 

It is singular that a temperature under the freezing-point 
of pure water should be advantageous for the development 
of an animal life so extremely rich as that which is found here, 


and that this animal life should not suffer any harm from the 
complete darkness, which during the greater portion of the 
year prevails at the bottom of the ice-covered sea. 

When we got out of the ice we steamed towards the land, 
which was sighted on the 2ord at 8.45 p.m. The land was low 
and free from snow ; the depth of the sea at a distance of ten 
kilometres from the coast varied between thirteen and fifteen 
metres. The coast here stretched from north to south. We 
followed it at a distance of seven to ten kilometres. A north- 
westerly breeze here carried the vessel, without the help of 
steam, rapidly forward over a completely smooth sea. 

On the 24th Auo-ust we still sailed along the land towards 
the south. The depth of the sea now increased to thirty-three 
metres at a distance of ten kilometres from land. The land rose 
gradually, and some distance from the coast beautiful mountain 
chains were seen, which, judging by the eye, rose to a height 
of from 600 to 900 metres. They were, like the plains along 
the coast, quite free from snow. Only in the clefts of the 
mountains there remained some few collections of snow or ice, 
which at two places appeared to form true glaciers, which however 
terminated at a considerable height above the sea. The snow- 
free slopes between the foot of the mountain and the shore 
bank, thirty to sixty metres high, formed an even plain, covered 
by a brownish-green turf, probably of the same nature as that 
we saw on Taimur Island. 

During the forenoon we had splendid clear weather, and 
often we could see from the vessel no trace of ice. We saw a 
large number of walruses, and to judge by the fire which this 
sight kindled in the eyes of our hunters, it will not be long 
till the Norwegian hunting voyages are extended to the sea 
north and east of the north point of Asia. We saw besides a 
large number of looms and black guillemots, the former 
accompanied by young of the year, as large as rotges. 
About noon we sighted " land ahead to larboard." It was 
evidently Preobraschenie Island. I determined to land on it 
for a few hours to carry on researches in natural history, and 
to fix the position of the place by astronomical observations, if 
the weather should permit. The distance of this high-lying 
island was however greater than we expected. So that it was 
not until six o'clock in the evening that we could anchor off 
its south-west side, near the almost perpendicular face of cliffs 
abounding in sea-fowl. 

During the last two days we had been sailing over a region, 
which on recent maps is marked as land. This shows that a 
considerable change must be made on the map of North Siberia, 
and I shall therefore quote here the observations on which the 
determination of our course is grrounded. 


Latitude. Longitude. 

Cape Chelyuskin ' 77'36-8' 103n7-2' 

On board the Vega' at noon of the 21st Aug. 77° 25' 109° 12' 

„ „ „ „ „ „ „ 22nd „ 76^53' 116° 9' 

„ „ „ „ „ „ „ 23rd „ 76=48' 115' 0' 

„ „ „ „ „ „ „ 24th „ 75= 0' 113=33' 

At the last mentioned point we had land to starboard of us 
at an estimated distance of 4'. Preobraschenie Island lay 
S. 21° W. 17" 5' off. It is on the ground of these data and of 
the courses recorded in the log, that the track of the Vega 
has been laid down on the map, and no doubt can arise that the 
position of the east coast of Taimur peninsula, as indicated by 
us, is in the main correct. 

Preobraschenie Island forms a pretty even grassy plain, lying 
from thirty to sixty metres above the sea-level, which in the 
north-west terminates tow^ards the sea with an almost per- 
pendicular rocky wall, but to the south-east sinks gradually 
down to two sand-banks which run far out to sea. At the 
time of our visit the island was free of snow and covered with 
a carpet of mosses mixed with grass, which was exceedingly 
abundant, especially on the south-west slopes of the island, pro- 
tected as they were from the north wdnds. Here we encountered 
anew the Arctic animal world in all its profusion. The ledges 
of the perpendicular shore-cliffs of the island formed the 
breeding-place of numberless looms and kittiwakes, to which a 
few black guillemots attached themselves. Along the farthest 
margin of the beach waders ran busily backwards and forwards 
in order to collect their food. At the summits of the cliffs 
a flock of glaucous gulls w^ere breeding, and on the slopes 
of the low land the white mountain owl was seen lying in wait 
for its prey, quiet and motionless for hours, but as usual it was 
w^ary and shy, so that it was only with difficulty that the hunter 
could get within range of it. At some places there extended 
between the foot of the " loomery " and the sea a stone-bestrewn 
beach, which at high water was mostly covered by the sea, and 
at low w^ater Avas full of shallow salt-water pools. Here had 
settled two Polar bears that were soon killed, one by Lieutenant 
Brusewitz, the other by Captain Johannesen. The bears had 
evidently been on the hunt for looms, which along with their 
young, large as rotges and already able to swim, were swimming 
in the pools of water at the foot of the " loomery," and above all 
perhaps they w^ere lying in wait for birds which by some accident 

^ According to an observation with an artificial horizon on land. 
2 According to an observation on board. The observations for longitude 
that were made some hours before or after noon, are reduced to noon. 




happened to fall down from the breeding-place. In the sea no 
small number of seals were seen, and but a few hours before 
our arrival at the island we ha,d sailed past herds of walrus. 

Vegetation was much more luxuriant and richer in species 
than at Cape Chelyuskin, and naturally bore a more southern 
stamp, not only in consequence of the more southerly position 
of the island, but also on account of its shores being washed 


(After a sketch by O. Nordquist.) 

by the water of the Chatanga river, which is warm during 

1 The following 65 species were 

Saussurea alpina DC. 
Gymnandra Stelleri Cham. & 

Pedicularis hirsuta L. 
Eritricliium villosum Bunge. 
Myosotis silvatica Hoffm. 
Phaca frigida L. 
Dryas octopetala L. 
Sieversia glacialis R. Br. 
Potentilla emarginata PuRSH. 
Saxifraga oppositifolia L. 

„ bronchialis L. 

,, flagellaris Willd. 

., Hirculus L. 

., serpyllifolia Pursh. 

collected here by Dr. Kjelhnan : — 

Haxifraga stellaris L. f. comosa. 

„ nivalis L. 

„ hieraciifolia Waldst. & 

,, punctata L. 

„ cernua L. 

„ rivularis L. 

„ c«spitosa L. 
Chrysosplenium alternifoliuni L. 
Eutrema Edwardsii R. Br. 
Parry a macrocarpa R. Br. 
Cardamine bellidifolia L. 
Cochlearia fenestrata E. Br. 
I'raba alpina L. 
Papaver nudicaule L. 


Unfortunately, on account of the advanced season of the year 
I could only allow the Vega to remain a few hours off this 
interesting" island, and at 10.30 p.m. accordingly the anchor was 
weighed and our voyage along the coast resumed. 

On the 25th, 26th and 27th August we had for the most 
part calm, fine weather, and the sea was completely free of ice. 
The temperature of the water again rose to H-5°'8, and its 
salinity diminished considerably. But the depth now decreased 
so much, that, for instance, on the night before the 26th we had 
great difficulty in getting past some shoals lying west of the 
delta of the Lena, off the mouth of the Olonek. 

It had originally been my intention to let the Vega separate 
from the Lena at some anchorage in one of the mouth-arms of 
the Lena river. But on account of the shallowness of the 
water, the favourable wind and the ice-free sea, that now lay 
before us to the eastward, I determined to part from the Lena, 
in the open sea off Tumat Island. This parting took place on 
the night between the 27th and 28th August, after Captain 
Johannesen had been signalled to come on board the Vega, to 
receive orders, passport,^ and letters for home. As a parting 
salute to our trusty little attendant during our voyage round 
the north point of Asia some rockets were fired, on which we 
steamed or sailed on, each to his destination. 

During our passage from Norway to the Lena Ave had been 
much troubled with fog, but it was only when we left the 
navigable water along the coast to the east of Cape Chelyuskin 
that we fell in with ice in such quantity that it was an obstacle 

Ranunculus pygmaeus Wo. Glyceria angustata R. Br. 

„ hyperboreus RoTTB. ,, vilfoidea (Ands.) Th. Fr. 

„ nivalis L. Arctophila pendulina (L/EST.) And. 

„ sulphureus SOL. Catabrosa algida (SoL.) Fr. 

Caltha palustris L. Colpodium latifolium R. Br. 

Wahlbergella apetala (L.) Fr. Dupontia Fisheri R. Br. 

Stellaria humifusa RoTTB. Aira caespitosa L. 

,, Edwardsii R. Br. Hierochloa pauciflora R. Br. 

Cerastium alpinum L. Alopecurus alpinus Sm. 

Alsine macrocarpa Fenzl. Eriopliorum angustifolium Roth. 

„ rubella Wg. ,, russeolum Fr. 

Sagina nivalis Fr. ,, Scheuclizeri Hoppe. 

Oxyria digyua (L.) Hill. Carex ursina Desv, 

Polygonum viviparum L. „ aquatilis Wg, 

Salix arctica Pall. Juncus bigluniis L. 

,, reticulata L. Luzula hyperborea E. Br. 

., polaris Wg. „ arctica Bl. 

Poa arctica R. Br. Lloydia serotina (L.) Reichenb. 

,, pratensis L. 

1 Before our departure, I had through the Swedish Foreign Office obtauied 
from the Russian Government letters patent in which the Russian authorities 
with whom we might come in contact were instructed to give us all the 
assistance that circumstances might call for. 


to our voyage. If the coast had been followed the whole time, 
if the weather had been clear and the navigable water sufficiently 
surveyed, so that it had been possible to keep the course of 
the vessel near the land, the voyage of the Vega to the mouth 
of the Lena ivould never have hcen obstructed by ice, and I am 
convinced that this will happen year after year during the close 
of August, at least between the Yenisej and the Lena. For 
I believe that the place where ice-obstacles will perhaps be met 
with most frequently will not be the north point of Asia, but 
the res^ion east of the entrance to the Kara Sea. 


The voyage of tlie Fraser and the Express up the Yenisej and their return 
to Norway — Contract for the piloting of tlie Lena up the Lena river — 
The voyage of the Lena through the delta and up the river to Yakutsk 
— The natural state of Siberia in general — The river territories — The 
fitness of the land for cultivation and the necessity for improved com- 
munications — The great rivers, the future commercial highways of 
Siberia — Voyage up the Yenisej in 1875 — Sibiriakoff's Island — The 
tundra — The primeval Siberian forest — The inhabitants of Western 
Siberia: the Russians, the Exiles, the "Asiatics" — Ways of travelling 
on the Yenisej : dog-boats, floating trading stores propelled by steam 
— New prospects for Siberia. 

I HAVE mentioned in the Introduction that the Vega during 
the first part of the voyage was accomj^anied by three other 
vessels, which together with the principal vessel of the Expedi- 
tion stood at my disposal and under my orders, and I have stated 
in passing that their voyages too deserve a place in the history 
of navigation. Now, when we were parted from the vessel 
which had accompanied the Vega farthest in her route eastwards, 
it may be the proper place to give a brief account of the close 
of the voyages of the Fraser, the Express, and the Lena, and 
give reasons for what I have said of the importance of these 

On the 9th August at 10 a.m., after Mr. Serebrenikoff had 
gone on board the Express to take command, as Sibiriakoff's 
commissioner, of the two vessels bound for the Yenisej, the 
Eraser, with the Express in tow, started from Port Dickson for 
the river. The voyage passed without other adventures than 
that in consequence of unacquaintance with the navigable 
waters the vessel sometimes gently grounded. On the 11th 
August Korepovskoj was reached, the same place where I laid up 
in 1876 the goods which I had brought with me in the Ymer. 
Here my old friend from my voyages of 1875 and 1876, the 




Cossack Feodor, was taken on board. He however proved now 
as unskilful a pilot as before. Notwithstanding his experience 
in 1876, when he several times ran the Ymer aground, he had 
not yet got a clear idea of the difference between the build of 
an ocean vessel and of the common flat-bottomed Yenisej 
lighters, and his conception of the responsibility of a pilot was 
expressed by his seeking, when he was allowed to take his own 
course, to forget in the arms of sleep all dangers and difficulties. 
Mr. SerebrenikofF and the captains of the vessels were there- 
fore themselves compelled by means of frequent soundings, 
which were commonly made from a steam launch in advance, to 


endeavour to find out the proper course. The navigable water 
between the level islands covered with bushy thickets and rich 
grassy meadows was often very narrow, but appears to have 
been pretty deep, as, even when the vessels went forward with- 
out the guidance of a skilful pilot, there was a depth of from 
5 to 30 metres ; and after a fisher, who knew the river better 
than Feodor, had been taken on board, it was found possible to 
go at full speed between the more southerly of the Briochov 
Islands^ in a depth of 30 to 50 metres. On 14th August the 
vessels reached Tolstojnos, where a very well preserved simovie 
is situated about 70^ 10' N.L., 370 kilometres south of Port 

' "Willi tliis name, for want of aiiotlier, T denote all the innumerable 
islands wliich lie in the Yenisej between G9' 45' and 71' N.L. 


Dickson. On the 15ch August they anchored in a good haven 
at Saostrovskoj, a simovie lying 100 kilometres farther up the 
river at the limit of trees, where the goods were to be discharged 
and another cargo taken on board. After a jetty had been 
constructed on the 16th, the landing of the goods began on the 
17th, and was finished on the 20th. The Fraser went still farther 
up the river to Dudino, in order to load various goods laid up 
there — tallow, wheat, rye, and oats. On the 2nd September 
the steamer returned to Saostrovskoj, where in the meantime 
the Express had taken on board her cargo. 

Dudino is a church village, situated at the point where the 
river Dudinka flows into the Yenisej. Here live two priests, a 
smotritel (a police official), a couple of exiles, some Russian 
workmen, and a number of natives, as well as the owner of the 
place, the influential merchant Sotnikoff. This active and 
able man is in an economical point of view ruler over the whole 
of the surrounding region, all whose inhabitants are in one way 
or other dependent upon him. He exchanges grain, brandy, 
sugar, tea, iron goods, powder and lead, cloth and leather, for 
furs, fish, mammoth-ivory, &c. ; and these goods are sent by 
steamer to Yenisej sk to be forwarded from thence to China, 
Moscow, St. Petersburg, &c. Among other things he is also the 
owner of very thick coal-seams in the Noril Mountains lying 
about 60 kilometres from Dudino. This simple and unostenta- 
tious man has been very obliging to all the scientific men who 
have visited the region. His dwelling, situated in the neighbour- 
hood of the limit of trees, is probably the stateliest palace of 
the Siberian tundra, admired by natives from far and near. It 
is built of large logs, consists of two stories, has a roof painted 
green, many windows with decorated frames painted white and 
blue ; the rooms are warm, provided with carpets of furs, pot- 
flowers in the windows, numerous sacred pictures, photographs, 
and copper engravings. 

On the 7th September all was ready for departure. The 
Fraser and Express weighed anchor to commence the return 
voyage down the river. At Tolstojnos two days after they met 
the steamer 3foshva'^ of Bremen, Captain Dallmann, having on 

^ The Moslva was the first steamer which penetrated from the AtLantic to 
the town of Yenisejsk. The principal dates of this voyage may therefore 
be quoted here. 

Baron Knoop, along with several Russian merchants, had chartered in 
1878 a steamer, the Lcmhe ; but this vessel stranded on the coast of Nor- 
way. The Zaritza, another Norwegian steamer, was chartered instead to 
carry the Louise's goods to their destination. But this vessel too stranded 
at the mouth of the Yenisej, and vvas abandoned by the crew, who were 
rescued by a small steamer, the MosJaoa, which accompanied the Zaritza. In 
this steamer Captain Dallmann, the Bremen merchant Helwig Schmidt, and 
Ehlertz, an official in the Russian finance office, now travelled up the river. 
The Mosttm had a successful voyage, arriving on the 4th September at 


board the crew of the Norwegian steamer Zaritza, Captain Brun, 
which had stranded at the mouth of the Yenisej and been 
abandoned by the crew. In the case of this stranding, however, 
the damage done had not been greater than that, when the 
FrascT fell in with the stranded Zaritza, it could be pumped dry, 
taken off the shoal, and, the engine having ifirst been put in 
order, carried back to Norway. On the 19th September all the 
three vessels arrived at Matotschkin Sound, where they lay 
some days in Beluga Bay in order to take in water and trim 
the cargo and coal ; after which on the 22nd of the same month 
they sailed through the sound to the west, and on the 26th 
anchored at Hammerfest in good condition and with full cargoes.^ 
The goods, which now for the first time were carried from the 
Yenisej to Europe, consisted of about 600 tons — tallow, wheat, 
rye and oats. The goods imported into Siberia consisted mainly 
of 16 tons nails, 8 tons horseshoes, 4 tons horsenails, 16|^ tons 
bar iron, 33 tons tobacco, 60 tons salt, 24 casks petroleum, an 
iron lighter in pieces with the necessary adjuncts of anchors, &lq} 
Before I begin to give an account of the voyage of the Lejut 
I must briefly mention the steps which Mr, Sibiriakoff took for 
her safety during her voyage from the mouth of the river, where 
she was to part from the Vega, to her proper destination, the town 
of Yakutsk. It is naturally very difficult for a vessel to seek 
her way without a pilot through an extensive delta completely 
imknown in a hydrographic respect, and crossed by a large 
number of deeper or shallower river arms. Mr. Sibiriakoff had 
therefore arranged that a river pilot should meet the Lena at the 
north point of the delta, and had through Mr. Kolesoff negoti- 
ated with him the following contract, which I reproduce here in 
full, because it gives in several respects a very graphic picture 
of various social relations in these remote regions. The copy of 
the contract which has been communicated to me when 
translated runs thus : — 

At Yakutsk, in the year one thousand eight hundred and 
seventy-eight on the 18th February, I, the undersigned Yakut 

Goltschicha, passing Turuchansk in consequence of a number of delays 
only on the 24th September, reaching Podkamenaja Tunguska on the 1st 
October, and on the 14th of the same month its destination, a winter 
harbour on the Tschorna river, some miles north of Yenisejsk. (Fahrt auf 
dem Yenissej von der Miindung bis Yenisejsk im Sommer 1878 ; Petermann' s 
MUtheilungen, 1879, p 81.) 

1 The particulars of the voyages of these vessels are taken from a copy 
wliich I have received of Captain Emil Nilsson's log. 

- The goods carried by me and by Wiggins to the Yenisej in 1876, 
and those which Schwanenberg carried thence in 1877, were properly only 
samples on a somewhat large scale. I have no knowledge of the goods 
which the Zaritza had on board when she ran aground at the mouth of 
tlie Yenisej. 



Afonasii Feodoroff Winokuroff, have concluded the follow- 
ing contract with Ivan Platonowitsch Kolesoff, merchant 
of the second guild in the town of Yakutsk, 

1. I, Winokuroff bind myself as pilot to carry the vessel of 
Professor Nordenskiold's expedition up the river Lena from the 
village Tas-Ary, which lies about 150 versts below the village 
Bulun. From Tumat Island, which is situated ia the north- 
eastern part of the Lena delta, I bind myself for the piloting of 
the same vessel to procure at my own cost among the inhabitants 
of the place a pilot who knows well the deepest channel of the 
Lena river as far as the village Tas-Ary. This pilot the chief 
of the expedition shall discharge at the village Tas-Ary. 

2. As I am not master of the Russian language I bind my- 
self to bring along with me a Yakut interpreter, who knows the 
Russian language and is able to write. In May of this year, I, 
Winokuroff, with the interpreter shall travel from the town 
of Yakutsk down the Lena river to Tumat Island and there 
along with the interpreter wait for the expedition. 

3. During the passage down the river I am bound to hire 
among the inhabitants of the regions a competent guide, who 
shall accompany us in my own boats to the island by the 
deepest channel in the Lena delta. During the passage from 
the village Tas-Ary I shall take soundings and record the depth 
of the fairway. 

4. Between the village Bulun and Tumat Island, I bind 
myself to seek for two places for the wintering of the vessel, 
which are quite suitable for the purpose, and protected from ice. 
I shall further lay before the commander of the expedition a 
journal containing everything which I can find that it would be 
advantageous to know for the safety of navigation and for the 
wintering of the vessels, also accounts of the places which are 
dangerous or unsuitable for navigation. 

5. On my arrival at Tumat Island I shall make it my first 
duty to find a deep and convenient haven for the seagoing vessels 
on the western side of the island. For this purpose I bind myself 
to have with me two boats, which, if necessary, shall be given 
over to the expedition. At the haven when found I bind myself 
to erect on some eminence near the shore of the island, which 
can be seen from Cape Olonek, a signal tower of driftwood or 
earth, like a Cossack mound, not lower than seven feet. On 
this foundation I shall raise a pyramidal frame of three or more 
thick logs, on the top of which I shall fix a flagstaff with a 
pulley block for the flag. The flag is to be flown at least 42 
feet from the ground, I shall guard the landmark thus erected 
until the river freezes. For this purpose Herr Kolesoff has 
provided me with a ready-made flag, a pulley block and a line. 
And when the nicrhts become dark I shall light two or three 


large fires or hang up lanterns on the landmark itself, so that 
these fires or lanterns may be seen from the sea, 

6. From the village Tas-Ary I shall carry the vessel of the 
expedition to the town of Yakutsk, inasmuch as I shall show 
the proper fairway on the Lena river. The interpreter shall be 
at my side during the whole journey. 

7. During the whole time from the day when I start from 
Yakutsk, up to the close of my time of service in Nordenskiold's 
expedition we, I, Winokuroff, and my interpreter, must be always 
sober (never intoxicated), behave faithfully and courteously, and 
punctually comply with the captain's orders. 

8. For all these obligations Herr Kolesoff has to pay me 900 

9. After the arrival of the expedition at Yakutsk I will not 
be allowed to leave the ship without the permission of the chief, 
but shall still remain on board. If the captain finds it necessary 
that I accompany him back to the mouth of the Lena, I shall 
conform to his wish in consideration of an extra fee of 300 
roubles. During this latter passage I am not bound to have 
with me any interpreter. 

10. If the arrival of the expedition at Tumat Island is delayed 
by any circumstance to the month of November, I have the 
right to betake myself along with my interpreter to Yakutsk 
and here to produce to Herr Kolesoff an official certificate given 
by Commandant Baschleff or any other local ofiicial that I had 
erected a landmark on Tumat Island and remained there until the 
river was frozen over, and that I did not leave until the expedi- 
tion was no longer to be expected. Then Herr Kolesoff on the 
ground of this contract must settle with me by jmying me the 
whole sum of 900 roubles, together with 200 roubles for 
my return journey. 

11. If the vessel of the expedition arrive at Tumat Island so 
late that the voyage becomes impossible, we, I and my interpreter, 
shall winter with the expedition until the river becomes open 
in 1879. And in this case we, I and my interpreter, shall 
live at our own expense, and serve the expedition as belonging 
to its crew. After the commencement of navigation in 1879 
1 shall conduct the vessel from the wintering station to the town 
of Yakutsk. On this account I have to receive, besides the 900 
roubles coming to me, 800 roubles more. If during this voyage 
too it should be necessary to accompany the vessels from 
Yakutsk back to the mouth of the Lena, I shall do that, and 
receive on that account 300 roubles. But if the vessels 
winter at Yakutsk, I shall be free during winter, and only 
during next year's voyage, if so required, accompany them 
to the mouth of the Lena. In that case I have to receive 800 

T 2 


12. Of this sum agreed upon Herr Kolesoff shall pay me in 
advance on the conclusion of this contract 300 roubles, in the 
month of May at my departure 150 roubles, and at the villag'e 
Bulun 250 roubles, for my payment to my companions and pilot 
and other expenses. The balance shall be -^ paid to me after 
my return to Yakutsk. 

13. In the month of May, at the time for starting, if I be pre- 
vented by illness from betaking myself to Tumat Island, I shall 
repay to Herr Kole.'^otf the simi paid to me at the conclusion of 
this contract, with the e.Kception of the money I have paid to 
the interpreter as pocket-money and for the boats. Should I 
not be able to repay the sum, I, Winokuroft", shall work out tlie 
amount not repaid at Herr Sibiriakoff's gold mines. 

14. All this are we, the two contracting parties, bound to 
observe in full and without infringement. 

A note to the copy further informs us that to this contract 
the Yakut Afonasii FeodorofF Winokuroff had, in place of his 
signature, attached his own seal, which the Yakut Alexii 
Zassimoff Mironoff had engraved, and that the conditions had 
been approved by the merchant Ivan KolesofF, and the whole 
registered at the police-office of the Yakutsk circle. 

The contract had been entered into with the friendly co-ope- 
ration of the Governor and Bishop of Yakutsk, who were much 
interested in the proposed voyage. The latter knew the coast 
of the Polar Sea from his own experience. But notwithstanding 
all this, the affair was attended with no better success than that 
the pilot celebrated the receipt of the large sum of money by 
getting thoroughly intoxicated, and while in that state he broke 
one of the bones of the fore-arm. He was thus unable ever to 
reach the appointed rendezvous, and Johannesen was allowed to 
manage by his own hand, as best he could, his little steamer. 

After the Lena had parted with the l^ega during the night 
between the 27th and 28th August, she steamed towards land, 
and came the same day to the northernmost cape of the Lena 
delta, situated in 73° 47' N.L.^ It was here that the pilot's " 
landmark Avas to have been erected, but there was no pilot liere, 
and no flagstaff was visible. In order to fall in with tins land- 
mark Johannesen sailed forty kilometres westward along the 
shore, but as his search in this direction was not attended with 
success, he turned back to the first-mentioned place and landed 
there. On the shore stood a very old hut, already completely 
filled with earth. It probably dated from some of the expe- 
ditions which visited the region in the beginning of the century. 

^ According to Johannesen's determination. On Wrangel's map the 
latitude of this cape is given as 73"^ 30'. Johannesen found the longitude 
to be 125° 31' instead of 127°. 




Wild reindeer were seen in large numbers. As according to the 
contract which has been quoted the landmark was to be visible 
from Cape Olonek, Johannesen steamed once more to the west, 
running as close to the land as possible. But as the water here 
became shallower and shallower without any signal-tower being 
visible, Johannesen had to find his way himself through the 
delta; and for this purpose he determined to search for the 
easternmost arm of the river, which, on the maps, is drawn 
as being very broad, and also appears to have been made use of 
by the vessels of " the great northern expeditions." ^ 


Forty kilometres east of the northern extremity of the Lena 
delta Johannesen encountered three sandbanks, which he sailed 

' According to Latkin (Petermann's Mittheilungen, 1879, p. 92), the Lena 
delta is crossed by seven main arms, the westernmost of which is 
called Anatartisch. It debouches into the sea at a cape 58 feet high 
named Ice Cape (Ledjanoi). Next come the river arm Bjelkoj, then Tumat, 
at whose mouth a landmark erected by Laptev in 1739 is still in existence. 
Then come the other three main arms, Kychistach, Trofimov, and Kisch- 
lach, and finally the very broad eastmost arm, Bychov. Probably some of 
the smaller river arms are to be preferred for sailing up the river to this 
broad arm, which is fouled by shoals. 




round. After passing these the water became deeper, so that 
he could advance at a distance of five Ivilometres from land. 
On the 1st September Johannesen anchored in a bay on the 
mainland in the neighbourhood of the Bychov mouth, whence 
on the 3rd September, at 2.30 a.m., he continued his course up 
the river, but by 10 o'clock the Lena was aground. The water 
was falling, and did not begin to rise until an hour after mid- 
night. It was not, therefore, until 8 a.m. the following day 
that the Lena was got off, and that with great difficulty. The 
sailing through the delta was rendered difficult by the maps, 
which were made 140 years ago, being now useless. For the 


Captain of tlie "Lena." Bom in 184G. 

delta has undergone great alterations since then. Where at 
that time there were sandbanks, there are now large islands, 
overgrown with wood and grass. At other places again whole 
islands have been washed away by the river. 

While the vessel was aground nine Tunguses came on board 
They rowed in small boats, which were made of a single tree 
stem, hollowed out, and could just carry a man each. Johan- 
nesen endeavoured in vain to induce some of the Tunguses to 
pilot the steamer ; he did not succeed in explaining his wish to 
them, notwithstanding all the attempts of the Russian inter- 
preter, a proof of the slight contact these Tunguses had had 


with the rulers of Siberia, and also of the difficulty and un- 
willingness with which the savage learns the language of the 
civilised nations. 

It was not until the 7th September that the delta was finally 
passed, and the Lena steamed in the river proper, where the 
fairway became considerably better. Johannesen says in his 
account of the voyage that it is improbable that any of the 
western arms of the Lena are of importance, partly because the 
mass of water which flows in an easterly direction is very 
considerable in comparison with the whole quantity of water in 
the river, partly because the western and northern arms which 
Johannesen visited contained only salt water, while the water 
in the eastern arm was completely free from any salt taste. On 
the 8th, early in the morning, the first fixed dwelling-place on 
the Lena, Tas-Ary, was reached. Here the voyagers landed to 
get information about the fairway, but could not enter into 
communication with the natives, because they were Tunguses, 
In the afternoon of the same day they came to another river 
village, Bulun. Impatient to proceed, and supposing that it 
too was inhabited wholly by " Asiatics," ^ Johannesen intended 
to pass it without stopping. But when the inhabitants saw the 
steamer they welcomed it with a salute from all the guns that 
could be got hold of in haste.^ The Lena then anchored. Two 
Crown officials and a priest came on board, and the latter 
performed a thanksgiving service. 

Even at that remote spot on the border of the tundra the 
Asiatic comprehended very well the importance of vessels from 
the great oceans being able to reach the large rivers of Siberia, 
I too had a proof of this in the year 1875. While still rowing 
up the river in my ow^n Nordland boat with two scientific men 
and three hunters, before we got up with the steamer Alexa7uhr 
Ave landed, among others, at a place where a number of Dolgans 
were collected. When they understood clearly that we had 
come to them, not as brandy-sellers or fish-buyers from the 
south, but from the north, from the ocean, they went into com- 
plete ecstasies. We were exposed to unpleasant embraces from 
our skin-clad admirers, and finally one of us had the misfortune 
to get a bath in the river in the course of an attempt which the 
Dolgans in their excitement made to carry him almost with 
violence to the boat, which was lying in the shallow water some 
distance from the shore. At iJudino, also, the priests living 
tliere lield a thanksgiving service for our happy arrival thither. 
Two of them said mass, while the clerk, clad in a sheepskin 
caftan reaching to his feet, zealously and devoutly swung an 

^ A common name used in Siberia for all the native races. 

- This has been incorrectly interpreted as if they shot at the vessel. 


immense censer. The odour from it was at first not particularly- 
pleasant, but it soon became so strong and disagreeable that 1, 
who had my place in front of the audience, was like to choke, 
though the ceremony was performed in the open air. Soon the 
clerk was completely concealed in a dense cloud of smoke, and 
it was now observed that his skin cloak had been set fire to at 
the same time as the incense. The service, however, was not 
interrupted by this incident, but the fire was merely extin- 
guished by a bucket of water being thrown, to the amusement 
of all, over the clerk. 

At nine in the morning the Lena continued her voyage up 
the river with the priest and the Crown officials on board, but 
they had soon to be landed, because in their joy they had 
become dead drunk. On the 13th September Schigansk was 
reached, and samples of the coal found there were taken 
on board, but these proved unserviceable,^ and on the 21st 
September the Lena reached Yakutsk. The first vessel which, 
comins from the ocean, reached the heart of Siberia was 
received with great goodwill and hospitality, both by the 
authorities and the common people. But when Johannesen did 
not find here Sibiriakoff's representative, Kolesoff, he continued 
his voyage up the river, until, on the 8th October, he came to 
the village Njaskaja, 220 versts from Vitim, in about 60° N.L. 
Here he turned back to Yakutsk and laid up the steamer in 
winter quarters a little to the south of that town. 

Both the Fraser and Express and the Lc7ia had thus fully 
answered the purposes intended before the departure of the 
expedition, and their voyages will always form an important 
link in the chain of the attempts through which navigation in 
the Siberian Polar Sea has been opened. 

In order to give an idea of the influence which this sea-route 
may have on the commerce of the world, and the new source of 
fortune and prosperity which thereby may be rendered accessible 
to millions, I shall in a few words give an account of the nature 
of the territory which by means of this sea-communication 
will be brought into contact with the old civilised countries 
of Europe. 

If we take Siberia in its widest sense, that is to say, if we 
include under that name not only Siberia proper, but also the 
parts of High Asia which lie round the sources of the great 
Siberian rivers, this land may very well be compared in extent, 

1 A coal seam is often unfit for use near the surface, where for centuries 
it has been uncovered and exposed to tlie action of the atmosphere, while 
farther down it may yield very good coal. It is probable besides that the 
layers of shale, which often surround the coal seams, have in this case 
been mistaken for the true coal. For those who are inexperienced in coal- 
mining to make such a mistake is the rule and not the exception. 


climate, fertility, and the possibility of supporting a dense 
population, with America north of 40° N.L. Like America, 
Siberia is occupied in the north by woodless plains. South of 
this region, where only the hunter, the fisher, and the reindeer 
nomad can find a scanty livelihood, there lies a widely extended 
forest territory, difficult of cultivation, and in its natural condi- 
tions, perhaps, somewhat I'esembling Sweden and Finland north 
of 60° or 61° N.L. South of this wooded belt, again, we have, 
both in Siberia and America, immeasurable stretches of an 


(After Witsen.) 

exceedingly fertile soil, of whose power to repay the toil of the 
cultiyator the grain exports during recent years from the fron- 
tier lauds between the United States and Canada have afforded 
so striking evidence. There is, however, this dissimilarity 
between Siberia and America, that while the products of the 
soil in America may be carried easily and cheaply to the 
harbours of the Atlantic and the Pacific, the best part of 
Siberia, that which lies round the upper j)art of the courses of 
the Irtisch-Ob and the Yenisej, is shut out from the great 
oceans of the worhJ by immense ■ tracts lying in front of it, and 




the great rivers which in Siberia cross the country and appear 
to be intended by nature to form not only the arteries for its 
inner life, but also channels of communication with the rest of 
the world, all flow towards the north and fall into a sea which, 
down to the most recent times, has been considered completely 

Of these rivers the double river, Ob-Irtisch, with its numerous 
affluents, occupies an area of more than 60,000 geographical 


(After a recent Russian drawing.) 

square miles, the Yenisej -Angara, not quite 50,000, and the 
Lena, somewhat over 40,000.^ As the map of the river system 

1 In order not to write without due examination about figures which 
have been written about a thousand times before, I have, with the help of 
Petermann's map of North and Middle Asia in Stieler's Hand- Atlas, cal- 
culated the extent of the areas of the Siberian rivers, and found them 
to be : — 

River area of the Ob (with the Tas) . . . 

„ „ „ Yenisej 

„ ,, ,, Lena,.. 
Of these areas 4,966,000 square kilometres, or about 90,000 geographical 
square miles, lie south of 60° N.L. 




square miles. 







Scale 1:2 o,t)()0,ooo. 

^''"■' '^f'-l-'- "MS Hap ..f Korth and Middle Asia, in Stielers Hajid-Atliui, 


of Siberia, which accompanies this work, shows, but a small part 
of these enormous territories lies north of the Arctic Circle, and 
only very inconsiderable portions of it are occupied by woodless 
tundra, which is explained by the fact that the greater part of 
the coast-land bordering on the Arctic Ocean is drained by 
small rivers of its own, and therefore cannot be considered to 
belong to the river territories now in question. If we draw the 
northern boundary of the land that may be cultivated with 
advantage at 60° N.L., there remains a cultivable area of 
90,000 geographical square miles. Perhaps a third part of this 
is occupied by rocky country which is wooded, and probably 
capable of being cultivated only with considerable difficulty, 
but the rest consists for the most part of easily cultivated 
grassy plains, with little wood, and covered with the most 
luxuriant vegetation. The soil, in many places resembling 
the black earth or tscheroio-scm of Russia, recompenses with 
abundant harvests even the slightest labour of cultivation. 
Notwithstanding this, these regions now support only an exceed- 
ingly sparse population, but many, many millions may without 
difficulty find their subsistence there when once cultivation has 
developed the rich natural resources of the country. 

It is a circumstance specially fortunate for the future develop- 
ment of Siberia that its three great rivers are already navigable 
for the greater part of their course. The Ob is navigable from 
Biisk (52|° N.L.), and the Irtisch at least from Semipalitinsk 
(50'' 18' N.L.). The Yenesej, again, wdiicli, after leaving the 
region of its sources in China, crosses with its two main arms 
the whole of Siberia from north to south, from the forty-sixth to 
the seventy-third degree of latitude, and thus traverses a terri- 
tory which corresponds in length to the distance between Venice 
and the North Cape, or between the mouth of the Mississippi 
and the north part of Lake Winnipeg, and is already navigable 
by nature from the sea to Yenisejsk. To this town goods are 
already transported doum both the main arms from Minusinsk 
and the region of Lake Baikal. It is said that the Angara 
might be made quite navigable during its whole course at an 
expenditure trifling in comparison with the advantages that 
Avould thus be gained, as well as its continuation, the Selenga, 
in its lower part between the Chinese frontier and Lake Baikal. 
In this way a river route would be opened for the conveyance of 
the products of North China and South Siberia to a sea which 
an ordinary steamer would cross in five or six days to the White 
Sea or the North Cape. A similar communication with the 
Atlantic may be opened on the double river Ob-Irtisch with 
Western Siberia and High Asia as far as to Chinese Dsungaria, 
where the Irtisch begins its course as a small river, the Black 
Irtisch, which falls into Lake Saisan, and rises south of the 


Altai Mountains in the neighbourhood of the Selenga, the 
source-river of the Yenisej. At several places the river terri- 
tories of the Ob and the Yenesej nearly reach hands to one 
another through affluents, which rise so close to each other that 
the two river systems might easily be connected by canals. 
This is also the case with the affluents of the Yenesej and the 
Lena, which at many places almost meet, and the Lena itself 
is, according to Latkin's statement, navigable from the village 
of Kotschuga to the sea. We see from this how extraordinarily 
advantageous is the natural system of interior communication 
which Siberia possesses, and at the same time that a communica- 
tion by sea between this country and the rest of the world is pos- 
sible only by the Arctic Ocean. It is on this that the enormous 
importance of the navigation of the Siberian Polar Sea depends. 
If this can be brought about, Siberia, with an inconsiderable 
expenditure in making canals, will not only become one of the 
most fortunate countries of the globe in respect of the possi- 
bility of the cheap transport of goods, but the old proposal of a 
north-eastern commercial route to China may even become a 
reality. If, on the other hand, navigation on the Polar Sea 
be not brought about, Siberia will still long remain what it is 
at present — a land rich in raw materials, but poor in all 
that is required for the convenience and comfort with which the 
civilised man in our days can with difficulty dispense. 

Many perhaps believe that the present want of commercial 
communication may be removed by a railway running across 
Eussia and Southern Siberia. But this is by no means the 
case. On the contrary, communication by sea is an indispens- 
able condition of such a railway being profitable. For it can 
never come in question to carry on a railway the products of 
the forest or the field over the stretch of three to five thousand 
kilometres which sejDarates the fertile river territory of the Ob- 
Irtisch from the nearest European port. Even if we suppose 
that the railway freight, inclusive of all costs, could be reduced 
to a farthing the kilometre-ton, it would in any case rise, from 
the grain regions of Siberia to a harbour on the Baltic, to from 
4/. to nearly 7^. per ton. So high a freight, with the costs of 
loading in addition, none of the common products of agriculture 
or forestry can stand, as may easily be seen if we compare this 
amount with the prices current in the markets of the world 
for wheat, rye, oats, barley, timber, &c. But if the Siberian 
countryman cannot sell his raw products, the land will continue 
to be as thinly peopled as it is at present, nor can the 
sparse population which will be found there procure themselves 
means to purchase such products of the industry of the present 
day as are able to bear long railway carriage. In the absence of 
contemporaneous sea-communication the railway will therefore 


be without traffic, the land such as it is at present, and 
the unprosperous condition of the European population 

In order to give the reader an idea of the present natural 
conditions, and the present communication on a Siberian river 
I shall, before returning to the sketch of the voyage of the 
Vcgn, give some extracts from notes made during my journey 
up the Yenesej in 1875, reminding the reader, however, that 
the natural conditions of the Ob-Irtisch and the Lena differ 
considerably from those of the Yenisej, the Ob-Irtisch flowing 
through lower, more fertile, and more thickly peopled regions, 
the Lena again through a wilder, more beautiful, but less 
cultivated country. 

When one travels up the river from Port Dickson, the broad 
sound between Sibiriakoff's Island and the mainland is first 
passed, but the island is so low that it is not visible from the 
eastern bank of the river arm which is usually followed in 
sailing up or down the river. The mainland, on the other hand, 
is at first high-lying, and in sailing along the coast it is possible 
to distinguish various spurs of the range of hills, estimated to 
be from 150 to 200 metres high, in the interior. These are 
free of snow in summer. A little south of Port Dickson they 
run to the river bank, where they form a low rock and rocky 
island projecting into the river, named after some otherwise 
unknown Siberian Polar trapper, Yefremov Kamen. 

Sibiriakoff's Island has never, so far as we know, been visited 
by man, not even during the time when numerous simovies were 
found at the mouth of the Yenesej. For no indication of this 
island is found in the older maps of Siberia, although these, as 
appears from the fac-simile reproduced at page 147, give the 
names of a number of simovies at the mouth of the Yenisej, 
now abandoned. Nor is it mentioned in the accounts of the 
voyages of the great northern expeditions. The western strand 
of the island, the only one I have seen, completely bore the 
stamp of the tundra described below. Several reindeer were 
seen pasturing on the low grassy eminences of the island, giving 
promise of abundant sport to the hunter who first lands 

Still at Yefremov Kamen we saw in 1875 three Polar bears 
who appeared to pasture in all peacefulness among the rocks, 
and did not allow themselves to be disturbed by the enormous 
loof-fire of driftwood we lighted on the strand to make our 
coffee. Here were found for the last time during our journey 
up the river actual marine animals : Appendicularia, Clio, 
medusae, large beroids, &c. Large bushy plants were still com- 
pletely wanting, but the vegetable world already began to 
assume a stamp differing from the Arctic Ocean flora proper. A 




short distance south of Yefremov Kamen begins the veritable 
tundra, a woodless plain, interrupted by no mountain heights, 
with small lakes scattered over it, and narrow valleys crossing 
it, which often make an excursion on the apparently level plain 
exceedingly tiresome. 

As is the case with all the other Siberian rivers running from 
south to north,^ the western strand of the Yenisej, wherever it 
is formed of loose, earthy layers, is also quite low and often 
marshy, while on the other hand the eastern strand consists of 
a steep bank, ten to twenty metres high, which north of the 


(From a drawing by A. N. Lumistriim.) 

limit of trees is distributed in a very remarkable way into 
pyramidal pointed mounds. Numerous shells of Crustacea 
.found here, belonging to species which still live in the Polar 
Sea, show that at least the upper earthy layer of the tundra 

1 For the northern heniisi^here it is a general rule that where rivers 
flow through loose, eartliy strata in a direction deviating considerably 
from that of the parallels of latitude, the right bank, when one stands 
facing the mouth of the river, is high, and the left Ioav. The cause 
of this is the globular form of tlie earth and its rotation, which gives 
rivers flowing north a tendency towards the east, and to rivers flowing 
south a tendency to the west. This tendency is resisted by the bank, 
but it is gradually eaten into and washed aAvay by degrees, so that the 
river bed, in the course of thousands of years, is shifted in the direction 


was deposited in a sea resembling that which now washes the 
north coast of Siberia.^ 

The tundra itself is in summer completely free of snow, but 
at a limited dejDth from the surface the ground is continually 
frozen. At some places the earthy strata alternate with strata 
of pure, clear ice. It is in these frozen strata that complete 
carcases of elephants and rhinoceroses have been found, which 
have been protected from putrefaction for hundreds of thousands 
of years. Such finds, however, are uncommon, but on the 
other hand single bones from this primeval animal world occur 
in rich abundance, and along with them masses of old drift- 
wood, originating from the Mammoth period, known by the 
Russian natives of Siberia under the distinctive name of 
" Noah's wood." Besides there are to be seen in the most 
recent layer of the Yenesej tundra, considerably north of the 
present limit of actual trees, large tree-stems with their roots 
fast in the soil, which show that the limit of trees in the 
Yenesej region, even during our geological j^eriod, went further 
north than now, perhaps as far as, in consequence of favourable 
local circumstances, it now goes on the Lena, 

On the slopes of the steep tundra bank and in several of the 
tundra valleys there is an exceedingly rich vegetation, which 
already, only 100 kilometres south of Yefremov Kamen, forms 
actual thickets of flowering plants, while the tundra itself is 
overgrown with an exceedingly scanty carpet, consisting more of 
mosses than of grasses. Salices of little height go as far 
north as Port Dickson (73° 30' N.L,), the dwarf birch {Betida 
nctna, L.) is met with, though only as a bush creeping along the 
ground, at Cape Schaitanskoj (72° 8' N.L.) ; and here in 1875, on 
the ice-mixed soil of the tundra, we gathered ripe cloudberries. 
Very luxuriant alders {Alnaster fruticosus, Ledeb.) occur already 
at Mesenkin (71° 28' N.L), and the Briochov Islands (70° to 
71° N.L.), are in several places covered with rich and luxuriant 
thickets of bushes. But the limit of trees proper is considered 
to begin first at the great bend which the river makes in 

^ As specimens of the sub-fossil mollusc fauna of the tundra some of 
the common species are delineated on page 288. These are : — - 

1. Mya arenaria^lAn. § of natural 9. Fusua fornicatus, JieQYe. i. 

size. 10. Fusus tomatus, Gould. |. 

2. Mya truncata, Lin. var. Udde- 11. Margarita elegantinsima, Bean. 

raUensh, Forbes, f . Natural size. 

.3. Sn.ricava pholadis, Lin. §. 12. Pleurotorim piicifera, Wood. 

4. Tellina lata, Gmel. f. Natural size. 

5. CardhancHiatum, Fabr. §. 13. Pleuroioma j^f/rcimidalis, Strom. 
G. Leda peruuIa,'Mu\\. vav.buccata, 1^. 

Steenstr. Natural size. 14. Trichntropis horeal'm, Brod. H. 

7. A^Mc«/rteay««sa, Reeve. Nat. size. 15. Natica hclicoides, Johnst. Nat. 

8. Fnsus Kroyeri, Moll, f . size. 



69° 40' N.L., a little north of Dudino. Here the hills are 
covered with a sort of wood consisting of half-withered, grey, 
moss-grown larches (Larix sibirica), which seldom reach a 
height of more than seven to ten metres, and which much less 
deserve the name of trees than the luxuriant alder bushes 
which grow nearly 2° farther north. But some few miles south 
of this place, and still far north of the Arctic Circle, the pine 
forest becomes tall. Here begins a veritable forest, the greatest 
the earth has to show, extending with little interruption from 
the Ural to the neighbourhood of the Sea of Ochotsk, and from 
the fifty-eighth or fifty-ninth degree of latitude to far north 
of the Arctic Circle, that is to say, about one thousand kilo- 
metres from north to south, and perhaps four times as much 
from east to west. It is a primeval forest of enormous extent, 
nearly untouched by the axe of the cultivator, but at many 
places devastated by extensive forest fires. 

On the high eastern bank of the Yenisej the forest begins 
immediately at the river bank. It consists principally of pines : 
the cembra pine (Finns Cembra, L.), valued for its seeds, enor- 
mous larches, the nearly awl-formed Siberian pine {Pinus 
sibirica, Ledeb.), the fir {Pinus obovata, TuRCZ.), and scattered 
trees of the common pine {Pinvs syhestris^ L.). Most of these 
already north of the Arctic Circle reach a colossal size, but in 
such a case are often here, far from all forestry, grey and half- 
dried up with age. Between the trees the ground is so covered 
with fallen branches and stems, only some of which are fresh, 
the others converted into a mass of wood-mould held together 
only by the bark, that there one willingly avoids going forward 
on an unbroken path. If that must be done, the progress made 
is small, and there is constant danger of breaking one's bones 
in the labyrinth of stems. Nearly everywhere the fallen stems 
are covered, often concealed, by an exceedingly luxuriant bed of 
mosses, while on the other hand tree-lichens, probably in con- 
sequence of the dry inland climate of Siberia, occur sparingly. 
The pines, therefore, want the shaggy covering common in 
Sweden, and the bark of the birches which are seen here 
and there among the pines is distinguished by an uncommon 
blinding whiteness. 

The western bank of the Yenesej consists, like the innumer- 
able islands of the river, for the most part of low lying and 
marshy stretches of land, which at the season of the spring 
floods are overflowed by the river and abundantly manured with 
its mud. In this way there is formed here a fertile tract of 
meadow covered partly with a grassy turf untouched by the 
scythe, partly with a very peculiar bush vegetation, rising to a 
height of eight metres, among which there are to be found a 
number of families of plants well known by us in Sweden, as 



Impatiens, Urtica, Sonchus, Heracleum, &c., but in gigantic 
forms unknown at home. Often a dense thicket of a willow 
{Salix vitellenia, L.), whose straight, branchless stems resemble 
at a distance the bamboo woods of the south, alternates with 
level, grassy carpets of a lively green and small streams in such 
a way as gives the whole the appearance of the most smiling 
park carefully kept free of fallen branches and dry grass. It is 
the river water which in spring has played the gardener's part 
in these parks, seldom trodden by the foot of man and endlessly 
rich in the most splendid greenery. Near the river there are 
also to be found carpets of a uniform green, consisting of a 
short kind of Equisetum, unmixed with any other plants, which 
forms a " gazon," to which no nobleman's country seat can show 
a match. The drawback is, that a stay in these regions during 
summer is nearly rendered impossible b}^ the enormous number 
of mosquitoes with which the air is infested. 

A table drawn up by Dr. Aenell, to be found in Redogorelse 
for dc svcnsha expeditionerna till mynningcn of Jeniscj dr 1876} 
shows the distribution of the most important varieties of trees. 
From it we see that on the Yenesej the birch {Betula odorata, 
Bechst.), the fir {Finns ohovata, Turcz.), the larch {Pinus 
larix, L.), and the juniper (Juniperus conwitmis, L.), go to 
69° 35' N.L. (that is to say to the latitude of Tromsoe) ; the 
sallow (Salix ca^prca, L.) to 68° 55'; the bird's cherry {Primus 
p)adus, L.), and the Siberian pine {Pinus sihirica, Ledeb.), to 
66° 30'; the aspen {Populus frcmula, L.) to 65° 55' (the latitude 
of Haparanda) ; the pine {Pinus sylvatica, L.) to 65° 50', &c. 

In the middle of the forest belt the wood appears to cover 
the whole land without interruption, thei'e being, unless 
exceptionally, no open places. But towards the north the forest 
passes into the treeless tundra through bare spots occurring 
here and there, which gradually increase, until trees grow only 
in valleys and sheltered places, and finally disappear completely. 
Similar is the passage of the forest to treeless regions (steppes), 
which at first are here and there bestrewed, with more or less 
detached groups of broad-leaved trees, until they wholly dis- 
appear, and the land forms an endless plain, out of whose fertile 
soil the warm summer sun calls forth a great variety of 
luxuriant vegetable forms, whose many-hued flowers, often 
large and splendid, clothe the fields with the richest splendour 
of colour. Here is the true homeland of many of the show- 
plants in the flower-gardens of Europe, as, for instance, the 
peony, the Siberian robinia, the blue iris, &c. 

If the Siberian wooded belt forms the most extensive forest 
in the world, this flower-steppe forms the world's greatest 
cultivable field, in all probability unequalled in extent and 

1 Bihang till Vet. Akad. Handl. Bd. iv. No. 11, p. 42. 

vni.] EUSSIAN HOUSES. . 291 

fertility. Without manure and with an exceedingly small 
amount of labour expended on cultivation, man will year by 
year draw forth from its black soil the most abundant harvests. 
For the present, however, this land, with its splendid capabili- 
ties for cultivation, has an exceedingly scanty population ; and 
this holds good in a yet higher degree of the forest belt, which 
is less susceptible of cultivation. At a considerable distance 
from the rivers it is for the most part an unknown land, where 
the European seldom or never sets his foot, and where only the 
native nomad or hunter wanders about. These forests, how- 
ever, are by no means so rich in game as might be expected, 
perhaps because the mosquitoes in summer are unendurable by 
warm-blooded animals. 

The main population in the forest belt consists of native nomad 
or Ininting tribes, of which Samoyeds, Ostyaks, Tunguses, and 
Yakuts are the most numerous. Only along the rivers do we 
find Russian villages and peasant settlements, placed there for 
trading with the natives, for fishing, and at some places for 
washing gold. Not till we come to the middle of the country 
is the Russian population more numerous ; here it spreads out in 
a broad belt over the whole of the immense expanse between 
the Ural and the Angara. 

In the farthest north the Russian dwelling-places consist of 
single cabins built of logs or planks from broken-up lighters,^ 
and having flat, turf-covered roofs. Such carvings and orna- 
ments as are commonly found on the houses of the well-to-do 
Russian peasant, and whose artistic outlines indicate that the 
inhabitants have had time to think of somethino^ else than the 
satisfaction of the wants of the moment, are here completely 
wanting; but further south the villages are larger, and the 
houses finer, with raised roofs and high gables richly ornamented 
with wood-carvings. A church, painted in bright colours, 
generally shows that one of the inhabitants of the village has 
become rich enough to be at the expense of this ornament to 
his native place. The whole indicates a degree of prosperity, 
and the interiors of the houses, if we except the cockroaches, 
which swarm everywhere, are very clean. The walls are orna- 
mented with numerous, if not very artistic, photographs and 
lithographs. Sacred pictures, richly ornamented, are placed in 
a corner, and before them hang several small oil-lamps, or small 
wax-lights, which are lighted on festive occasions. The sleep- 

^ Provisions and wares intended for trade with the natives are trans- 
ported on the Yenisej, as on many other Siberian rivers, down the stream 
in colossal lighters, built of planks like logs. It does not pay to take 
them up the river again, on which account, after their lading has been 
taken out of them, they are either left on the bank to rot or broken up for 
the timber. 

u 2 




ing place is formed of a bedstead near the roof, so large that it 
occupies a half or a third of the room, and at such a height 
from the floor that one can stand upright under it. There 
a tropical heat commonly prevails, the occupant of the bed 
accordingly enjoying an almost constant sweat-bath, which does 
not prevent him from going out immediately into the open air 
at a temperature at which mercury freezes. Food is cooked in 
large baking ovens, which are fired daily for that purpose, and 
at the same time heat the cabin. Fresh bread is baked every 
day, and even for the poor a large tea-urn {samovar) is an almost 
indispensable household article. The foreigner is certain to 
receive a hearty and friendly welcome when he crosses the 


Used by the Norwegian traveller Chr. Hansteen on the river Angara. 

threshold, and if he stays a short time in the cabin he will 
generally, whatever time of the dav it be, find himself drink- 
ing a glass of tea with his host. The dress everywhere closely 
resembles the Russian : for the rich, wide velvet trousers stuck 
into the boots, a shirt showily embroidered with silver thread, 
and a large caftan often lined with fur ; for the poor, if not too 
rasfored, the same cut, but the cloth inferior, dirtv, and torn. 
During ^^^nter, how^ever, for going out of doors, the Samoyed 
pcsk is said to be common to high and low, Russian and native, 
settled and nomad. 

In my journey up the Yenesej in 1875 I met with only a 


few persons in these regions who had been exiled thither for 
political reasons, but on the other hand very many exiled 
criminals of the deepest dye — murderers, thieves, forgers, in- 
cendiaries, &c. Among them were also some few Fins and 
even a Swede, or at least one who, according to his own state- 
ment in broken Swedish, had formerly served in the King's 
Guard at Stockholm. Security ©■f person and property was in 
any case complete, and it was remarkable that there did not 
appear to be any proper distinction of caste between the 
Russian-Siberian natives and those who had been exiled for 
crime. There appeared even to be little interest in ascertaining 
the crime — or, as the customary phrase appears to be here, the 
" misfortune " — which caused the exile. On making inquiry on 
this point I commonly got the answer, susceptible of many 
interpretations, " for bad behaviour." We found a peculiar sort 
of criminal colony at Selivaninskoj, a very large village situated 
on the eastern bank of the Yenesej in about the latitude of 
Aavasaksa. My journal of the expedition of 1875 contains the 
following notes of my visit to this colony. 

The orthodox Russian church, as is well known, is tolerant 
towards the professors of foreign religions — Lutherans, Catholics, 
Jews, Mohammedans, Buddhists, Shamans, &c. ; but, on the 
other hand, in complete correspondence with what took place 
in former times within the Protestant world, persecutes sectaries 
within its own pale, with temporal punishments here upon earth 
and with threatenings of eternal in another world. Especially 
in former times a great many sectaries have been sent to Siberia, 
and therefore there are sometimes to be found there peculiar 
colonies enjoying great prosperity, exclusively inhabited by the 
members of a certain sect. Such is the Skopt colony at Selivan- 
inskoj, in connection with which, however, it may be remarked 
that the nature of the religious delusion in this case accounts 
for the severity of the law or the authorities. For, on the 
ground of a text in the Gospel of Matthew interpreted in a 
very peculiar way, all Skoptzi subject themselves to a mutilation, 
in consequence of which the sect can only exist by new prose- 
lytes ; and remarkably enough, these madmen, notwithstanding 
all persecution, or perhaps just on that account, actually still 
gain followers. A large number of the Skoptzi were Fins from 
Ingermanland, with whom I could converse without difficulty. 
They had, through industry and perseverance, succeeded in 
creating for themselves a certain prosperity, were hospitable and 
friendly, and bore their hard fate with resignation. They would 
not themselves kill any warm-blooded animal, for it was "a sin 
to kill what God had created ;" which did not hinder them from 
catching and eating fish, and from selling to us, who in any 
case were lost beings, a fine fat ox, on condition that our own 



[chap. viii. 

people should slaughter it. Their abstinence from some 
kinds of animal food had besides the good result of inducing 
them to devote themselves to the cultivation of the soil. 
Round about their cabins accordingly there were patches of land 
growing potatoes, turnips, and cabbage, which at least that year 
yielded an abundant crop, though lying under the Arctic circle. 
Farther south such plots increase in size, and yield rich crops, 
at least, of a very large potato. There is no proper cultivation of 
grain till we come to Sykobatka, situated in 60° N.L., but in a 
future, when forests and mosses are diminished, a profitable 
acrriculture will be carried on far to the northward. 


After a Photograph.) 

Along with the dwellings of the Russians, the tents of the 
natives, or, as the Russians call them, " the Asiatics," are often 
to be met with. They have the same shape as the Lapp " kota." 
The Samoyed tent is commonly covered with reindeer skins, the 
Ostyak tent with birch bark. In the neighbourhood of the 
tent there are always large numbers of dogs, which during 
winter are employed for general carrying purposes, and in 
summer for towing boats up the river — a means of water trans- 
port which greatly astonished the Norwegian sailors with whom 
I travelled up the river in 1875. To see people travelling in a 
boat drawn by dogs appeared to them more remarkable than 





the Kremlin of Moscow, or the bells of Kiev. For such a 
journey a sufficient number of dogs are harnessed to a long line, 
one end of which is fastened to the stem of the boat. The dogs 
then go along the level bank, where they make actual foot- 
paths. The boat being of light draught is kept afloat at a 
sufficient distance from land partly by means of the rudder 
which is managed by a person sitting in the stem of the boat, 
and partly by poling from the fore. Small boats are often 
hollowed out of a single tree-stem, and may notwithstanding, 
thanks to the size which some of the pines attain in those 


(After a Photograph.) 

regions, be very roomy, and of a very beautiful shape. The 
dogs strongly resemble the Eskimo dogs in Greenland, which 
are also used as draught animals. 

Most of the natives who have come into close contact with the 
Russians are said to profess the Christian religion. That many 
heathen customs, however, still adhere to them is shown, among 
other things, by the following incident : At a simovie where we 
landed for some hours on the 16th Sept. we found, as is common, 
a burying-place in the forest near the dwelling houses. The 
corpses were placed in large coffins above ground, at which 




almost always a cross was erected. In one of the crosses a 
sacred picture was inserted, which must be considered a further 
proof that a Christian rested in the coffin. Notwithstanding 
this, we found some clothes, which had belonged to the departed, 
hanging on a bush beside the grave, together with a bundle con- 
taining food, principally dried tish. At the graves of the richer 
natives the survivors are even said to place along with food 
some rouble notes, in order that the departed may not be alto- 
gether without ready money on his entrance into the other 


(After a drawing by Hj. Theel.) 

Right opposite the village Nasimovskoj is a gold-digger's 
deserted "residence," named Yermakova after the first con- 
queror of Siberia. The building owed its origin to the discovery 
of sand-beds rich in gold, occupying a pretty extensive area 
east of the Yenisej, which for a time had the repute of being 
the richest gold territory in the world. Here in a short 
time enormous fortunes were made ; and accounts of the 
liundreds of poods which one or another yearly reaped from 
the sand-beds, and the fast reckless life led by those to whom 
fortune dealt out the great prizes m the gold-digging lottery, 
still form a favourite topic of conversation in the region. A 


rise in the value of labour and a diminished production of the 
noble metal have, however, since led to the abandonment of a 
large number of the diggings that formerly were most produc- 
tive ; others now scarcely pay the expense of the working. 
Many of the gold-diggers who were formerly rich, in the 
attempt to win more have been impoverished, and have dis- 
appeared ; others who have succeeded in retaining their "pood 
of gold " — that is the mint unit which the gold-diggers prefer 
to use in their conversation — have removed to Omsk, Krasno- 
jarsk, Moscow, Petersburg, Paris, &c. The gold-diggers' resi- 
dences stand, therefore, now deserted, and form on the eastern 
bank of the river a row of half-decayed wooden ruins surrounded 
by young trees, after which in no long time only the tradition 
of the former period of prosperity will be found remaining. In 
one respect indeed the gold-diggers have exerted a powerful 
influence on the future of the country. For it was through 
them that the first pioneers were scattered in the wilderness, 
the first seed sown of the cultivation of the region. 

In 1875 there were only two steamers on the Yenisej. These 
were neither passenger nor cargo boats, but rather movable 
commercial stores, propelled by steam. The fore-saloon formed 
a shop provided with a desk, and shelves on which were to be 
seen cloths, iron wares, guns, ammunition, tobacco, tea, matches, 
sugar, brightly coloured copper engravings or lithographs, &c. 
In the after-saloon was enthroned, among brandy casks, pur- 
chased furs, and other precious or delicate wares, he who had 
the command on board, a kind and friendly merchant, who evi- 
dently did not concern himself much with the work of the 
sailors, but rather with trade and the making of bargains, and 
who was seldom called by the crew captain (kapitan), but gene- 
rally master (Jiosain). After the steamer, or floating commercial 
store, there was towed one or two lodjas, which served as maga- 
zines, in which meal and salt and other heavy goods were stored, 
the purchased fish were salted and looked after, fresh bread baked 
for the numerous crew, &c. And as there was not a single jetty 
to be found the whole way between Yenisejsk and the sea, both 
the steamer and the lodjas, in order to be able to load and deliver 
goods at any point, had a large number of boats and lighters 
in tow. No place was set apart for passengers, but travellers 
were received in a friendly and hospitable manner when they 
came on board, where they were then allowed to look out for 
themselves as best they could. The nautical command was 
held by two mates or pilots of a stately and original appearance, 
who, clad in long caftans, sat each in his watch on a chair at 
the wheel, generally without steering, mostly smoking a cigarette 
made of coarse paper and, with the most careless appeai'ance in 
the world, exchanging jests with those who were going down the 




river. The prohibition of taking away the attention of the 
steersman from his work by conversation was thus not in force 
hereabouts. A man stood constantly in the fore, uninterruptedly 
testing the depth with a long pole. For in order to avoid 
the strong current of the main stream the course was always 
shaped as near the shore as possible, often so near that one 
could almost jump ashore, antl my own Nordland boat, which 
was towed by the side of the steamer, was occasionally drawn 
over land. It will be seen from this of how light draught the 
steamer was. 


(After a Photograph.) 

Siberia, especially the river territory of the Yenisej and the 
Lena, possesses rich coal seams, which probably extend under 
considerable portions of the Siberian plain, but are yet unworked 
and have attracted little attention. The river steamers accord- 
ingly are fired, not with coal, but with wood, of which, if I 
remember right, 180 fathoms went to the voyage of the steamer 
Alexander up the river. As the vessel could carry only a small 
portion of this quantity of wood at one time, frequent halts were 
necessary, not only for trading with the natives, but also for 
taking fuel on board. In addition to this, the weak engine, 

300 THE VOYAGE OF THE VEGA. [chap. viir. 

aUhough the safety valves were overloaded when necessary with lead 
weights, was sometimes unable to make head with all the vessels 
in tow against a current which at some places was very rapid, 
and often, in the attempt to find still water near the river bank, 
the steamer ran aground, notwithstanding the continual " ladno " 
cry of the poling pilot standing in the fore. It made so slow 
progress on this account that the passage from Saostrovskoj to 
Yenisejsk occupied a whole month. 

The two main arms into which the Yenisej is divided south 
of Yenisejsk are too rapid for the present Yenisej steamers 
to ascend them, while, as has been already stated, there is no 
difficulty in descending these rivers from the Selenga and the 
Baikal Lake on the one hand, and from the Minusinsk region 
abounding in grain on the other. The ' banks here consist, in 
many places, of high rocky ridges covered with fine forests, with 
wonderfully beautiful valleys between them, covered with 
luxuriant vegetation. 

What I have said regarding the mode of travelling up the 
Yenisej refers to the year 1875, in which I went up the river 
accompanied by two Swedish naturalists and three Norwegian 
seamen. It was then by no means unknown, for scientific men 
such as Hansteen (1829), Gastrin (1846), Middendorb^ (winter 
journeys in 1843 and 1844), and Schmidt (1866), had travelled 
hither and communicated their observations to the scientific 
world in valuable works on the nature and people of the region. 
But the visits of the West-European still formed rare exceptions ; 
no West-European commercial traveller had yet wandered to 
those regions, and into the calculations of the friendly masters 
of the Yenisej river steamers no import of goods from, or 
export of goods to, Europe had ever entered. All at once a new 
period seemed to begin. If the change has not gone on so fast 
as many expected, life here, however, is more than it was at one 
time, and every year the change is more and more noticeable. 
It is on this account that I consider these notes from the journey 
of 1875 worthy of being preserved. 



The New Siberian Islands — Tlie Mammotli — Discovery of Mammoth and 
Rliinoceros mummies — Fossil liliinoceros horns — Stolbovoj Island — 
Liaehofli's Island — First discovery of this island — Passage through t])e 
sound between this island and the mainland — Animal life there — 
Formation of ice in water above the freezing point — The Bear Islands — 
The quantity and dimensions of the ice begin to increase — DifEerent 
kinds of sea-ice — Renewed attempt to leave the open channel along the 
coast — Lighthouse Island — Voyage along the coast to Cape Schelagskoj 
— Advance delayed by ice, shoals, and fog — First meeting with the 
Chukches — Landing and visits to Chukch villages — Discovery of 
abandoned encampments — Trade with the natives rendered difficult 
by the want of means of exchange — Stay at Irkaipi — Onkilon graves — 
Information regarding the Onkilon race — Renewed contact with the 
Chukches — Kolyutschin Bay- — American statements regarding the state 
of the ice north of Behring's Straits— The Vega beset. 

After the parting the Le7ia shaped her course towards the land ; 
the Vega continued her voyage in a north-easterly direction 
towards the new Siberian Islands. 

These have, from the time of their discovery, been renowned 
among the Eussian ivory collectors for their extraordinary rich- 
ness in tusks and portions of skeletons of the extinct northern 
species of elephant known by the name of inammoth. 

We know by the careful researches of the academicians Pallas, 
vox Baer, Brandt, vox Middendorff, Fr. Schmidt, &c., that 
the mammoth was a peculiar northern species of elephant with 
a covering of hair, which, at least during certain seasons of the 
year, lived under natural conditions closely resembling those 
which now prevail in middle and even in northern Siberia. 
The widely extended grassy plains and forests of North Asia 
were the proper homeland of this animal, and there it must at 
one time have wandered about in large herds. 

The same, or a closely allied species of elephant, also occurred 
in North America, in England, France, Switzerland, Germany, 
and North Russia. Indeed, even in Sweden and Finland incon- 
siderable mammoth remains have sometimes been found. ^ But 
while in Europe only some more or inconsiderable remains 
of bones are commonly to be found, in Siberia we meet not only 
with whole skeletons, but also whole animals frozen in the 
earth, with solidified blood, flesh, hide, and hair. Hence we 
may draw the conclusion that the mammoth died out, speaking 
geologically, not so very long ago. This is besides confirmed by 

* Further information on this point is given by A. J. Malmgren in 
a paper on the occurrence and extent of mammoth-finds, and on tlie 
conditions of this animal's existence in former times {Finslca Vet.-Soc. 
Forhandl. 1874—5). 


a remarkable antiquarian discovery made in France. Along 
with a number of roughly worked flint flakes, pieces of ivory 
were found, on which, among other things, a mammoth with 
trunk, tusks, and hair was engraved in rough but unmistak- 
able lineaments, and in a style resembling that which distin- 
guishes the Chukch drawings, copies of which will be found 
further on in this work. This drawing, whose genuineness 
appears to be proved, surpasses in age, perhaps a hundredfold, 
the oldest monuments that Egypt has to show, and forms a re- 
markable proof that the mammoth, the original of the drawing, 
lived in Western Europe contemiDoraneously with man. The 
mammoth remains are thus derived from a gigantic animal form, 
living in former times in nearly all the lands now civilized, and 
whose carcase is not yet everywhere completely decomposed. 
Hence the great and intense interest which attaches to all that 
concerns this wonderful animal. 

If the interpretation of an obscure passage in Pliny be correct, 
mammoth ivory has, from the most ancient times, formed a 
valued article of commerce, which, however, was often mistaken 
for the ivory of living elephants and of the walrus. But portions 
of the skeleton of the mammoth itself are flrst described in de- 
tail by WiTSEX, who during his stay in Russia in 1686 collected 
a large number of statements regarding it, and at least in the 
second edition of his work gives good drawings of the under jaw 
of a mammoth and the cranium of a fossil species of ox, whose 
bones are found along with the remains of the mammoth (WlT- 
SEN, 2nd. edit. p. 746). But it appears to have escaped Witsen, 
who himself considered m-ammoth bones to be the remains of 
ancient elephants, and who well knew the walrus, that in a 
number of the accounts which he quotes, the mammoth and the 
walrus are clearly mixed up together, which is not so wonderful, 
as both are found on the coast of the Polar Sea, and both yielded 
ivory to the stocks of the Siberian merchants. In the same 
way all the statements which the French Jesuit, AvRiL, during 
his stay in Moscow in 1686, collected regarding the amphibious 
animal. Behemoth, occurring on the coast of the Tartarian Sea, 
(Polar Sea) refer not to the mammoth, as some writers, 
HowoRTH^ for example, have supposed, but to the walrus. 
The name mammoth, which is probably of Tartar origin, Witsen 
appears to wish to derive from Behemoth, spoken of in the 
fortieth chapter of the Book of Job. The first mammoth tusk 
was brought to England in 1611, by JosiAS Logan. It was 
purchased in the region of the Petchora, and attracted great 

^ Compare Ph. Avril, Voyage en divers etafs d''Europe et d^Asie entrepris 
pour decouvr'ir un noureau chemin a la Chine, etc., Paris, 1692, p. 'J09. 
Jianry H. Howorth, "The Mammoth in Siberia" {Geolog. Mag. 1880, 
p. 408). 

z ^ 

;= A. .^ 

'^E '^ <J 




attention, as appears from Logan's remark in a letter to Hak- 
luyt, that one would not have dreamed to find such wares in the 
region of the Petchora (Purchas, iii. p. 546). As Englishmen 
at that time visited Moscow frequently, and for long periods, 
this remark appears to indicate that fossil ivory first became 
known in the capital of Russia some time after the conquest of 

I have not, indeed, been successful during the voyage of the 
Vega in making any remarkable discovery that would throw 
light on the mode of life of the mammoth,^ but as we now sail 


After Jukes, The Sindent's Manual of Geology, Edinburgh, If 62 

forward between shores probably richer in such remains than any 
other on the surface of the globe, and over a sea, from whose 
bottom our dredge brought up, along with pieces of driftwood, 
half-decayed portions of mammoth tusks, and as the savages 
with whom we came in contact, several times offered us very 
fine mammoth tusks or tools made of mammoth ivory, it may 
not perhaps be out of place here to give a brief account of 
some of the most important mammoth ^wf/s which have been 

^ As will be stated in detail further on, there were found during the 
Vega expedition very remarkable sub-fossil animal remains, not of the 
mammoth, however, but of various different species of the whale. 


preserved for science. We can only refer to the discovery of 
mammoth mummies,^ for the ^^'7u?s of mammoth tusks sufficiently 
well preserved to be used for carving are so frequent as to defy 
enumeration. Middendorff reckons the number of the tusks, 
which yearly come into the market, as at least a hundred pairs,^ 
whence we may infer, that during the years that have elapsed 
since the conquest of Siberia useful tusks from more than 
20,000 animals have been collected. 

The discovery of a mAinm.oth.-m'ummy is mentioned for the 
first time in detail in the sketch of a journey which the Russian 
ambassador EvEitT YssBRANTS Ides, a Dutchman by birth, 
made in 1692 through Siberia to China. A person whom 
Yssbrants Ides had with him during his journey through Siberia, 
and who travelled every year to collect mammoth ivory, assured 
him that he had once found a head of this animal in a piece of 
frozen earth which had tumbled down. The flesh was putrefied, 
the neck-bone was still coloured by blood, and some distance 
from the head a frozen foot was found.^ The foot was taken to 
Turuchansk, whence we may infer that the Ji7id was made on 
the Yenisej. Another time the same man found a pair of tusks 
weighing together twelve poods or nearly 200 kilogram. Ides' 
informant further stated, that while the heathen Yakuts, Tun- 
guses, and Ostyaks, supposed that the mammoth always lived 
in the earth and went about in it, however hard the ground 
miorht be frozen, also that the large animal died when it came 
so far up that it saw or smelled the air ; the old Russians living 
in Siberia were of opinion that the mammoth was an animal 
of the same kind as the elephant, though with tusks somewhat 
more bent and closer together ; that before the Flood Siberia had 
been warmer than now, and elephants had then lived in numbers 
there ; that they had been drowned in the Flood, and afterwards, 
when the climate became colder, had frozen in the river mud.* 

The folk-lore of the natives regarding the mode of life of the 
mammoth under ground is given in still greater detail in J. B. 
MiJLLER's Zelcn und Geioonheikn der Ostiaken tmter dem Polo 

1 Tlie word mummies is used by Von MiddendorflE to designate carcases 
of ancient animals found in the frozen soil of Siberia. 

2 The calculation is probably rather too low than too high. The steamer 
alone, in which I travelled up the Yenisej in 1875, carried over a hundred 
lusks, of which however the most were blackened, and many were so 
decayed that I cannot comprehend how the great expense of transport from 
the tundra of the Yenisej could be covered by the value of this article. 
According to the statement of the ivory dealers the whole parcel, good and 
bad together, was paid for at a common average price. 

^ Notices of yet other finds of iiiaininoth carcases occur, according to 
MiddendorflE {Sih. Beise, IV. i. p. 274) in the scarce and to me inaccessible 
first edition of Witsen's Noord en Oost Tartarye (1692, Vol. IL p. 473). 

■* E. Yssbrants Ides, Dreyjorir/e Heise nach China, etc., Frankfort, 1707, 
p. 55 The first edition was i)ublislied in Amsterdam, in Dutch, in 1704. 



ardico woJmende, &c. Berlin, 1720 (in French in Recueil de 
Voiagcs au Nord, Amsterdam, 1731-38, Vol. VIII. p. 373). 
According to the accounts given by Miiller, who lived in Siberia 
as a Swedish prisoner of war,^ the tusks formed the animal's 
horns. With these, which were fastened above the eyes and 
were movable, the animal dug a way for itself through the clay 
and mud, but when it came to sandy soil, the sand ran together 
so that the mammoth stuck fast and perished. Miiller further 
states, that many assured him that they themselves had seen 
such animals on the other side of Beresovsk in large grottos in 
the Ural mountains {loc. cit. p. 382). 

Klaproth received a similar account of the mammoth's way 
of life from the Chinese in the Busso-Chinese frontier and trad- 
ing town Kyachta. For mammoth ivory was considered to be 
tusks of tire giant rat tien-shic, which is only found in the cold 
regions along the coast of the Polar Sea, avoids the light, and 
lives in dark holes in the interior of the earth. Its flesh is 
said to be cooling and Avholesome. Some Chinese literati con- 
sidered that the discovery of these immense earth rats might 
even explain the origin of earthquakes.^ 

It was not until the latter half of the last century that a 
European scientific man had an opportunity of examining a 
similixv Jind. In the year 1771 a complete rhinoceros, with flesh 
and hide, was uncovered by a landslip on the river Wilui in QV 
N.L. Its head and feet are still preserved at St. Petersburg. 
All the other parts" were allowed to be destroyed for want of 
means of transport and preservation.^ What was taken away 
showed that this primeval rhinoceros [Rliinoccros antiquitatU 
Blumenbach) had been covered with hair and differed from all 
now living species of the same family, though strongly re- 
sembling them in shape and size. Already, long before the 
horns of the fossil rhinoceros had attracted the attention of 
the natives, pieces of these horns were used for the same pur- 
poses for which the Chukches employ strips of whalebone, viz. 
to increase the elasticity of their bows. They were considered at 

1 Strahlenberg in Das Nord- tmd Ostliche Theil von Europa und Asia, 
S|-ockholm, 1730, p. 393, also gives a large number of statements regarding 
the fossil Siberian ivory, and mentions that the distinguislied Siberian 
traveller Messerschmidt found a complete skeleton on the river Tom. 

2 Tilesius, De skeleto mammonteo Sihirico (Mem. de VAcad. de St. Peters- 
hourg, T. V. pour Vanneel812, p. 409). Middendorif, S\h. Pte/se, IV. i. p. 274. 
Von Olfers, Die Uberreste vonoeltlicher RiesentJiiere in Beziehiinq zu Ostasia- 
tischen Sagen und Chinesischen Schriften {Ahhandl. derAhad.d. Wissensch. zu 
Berlin aits dem Jahre 1839, p. 51). 

^ P. S. Pallas, De reUquiis anhnaliinn exoticorum per Asiam horealem 
repertis complementum {Novi commentarii Acad. Sc Petropolltanm, XVII. 
pro anno 1772, p. 576), and Reise durch verschiedene Provinzen des Russischen 
Relchii, Th. III. St. Petersburg, 1776, p. 97. 




the same time to exert a like beneficial influence on the arrow, 
tending to make it hit the mark, as, according to the hunter's 
superstition among ourselves in former days, some cat's claws 
and owl's eyes placed in the bullet mould had on the ball. The 
natives believed that the crania and horns of the rhinoceros 
found along with the remains of the mammoth belonged to 
gigantic birds, regarding which there were told in the tents of 
the Yakut, the Ostyak and the Tunguse many tales resembling 
that of the bird Roc in the Thousand and One Nights. Ermann 


Presprved in the Museum at St. PetersbuTf,'. 

and Middendorff even suppose that such finds two thousand 
years ago gave occasion to Herodotus' account of the Arimaspi 
and the gold-guarding dragons {Herodotus, Book IV. chap. 27). 
Certain Tt is that during the middle ages such "grip-claws" 
were preserved, as of great value, in the treasuries and art col- 
lections of that time, and that they gave rise to many a romantic 
story in the folk-lore both of the West and East. Even in 
this century Hedenstroni, the otherwise sagacious traveller on 
the Siberian Polar Sea, believed that the fossil rhinoceros' horns 

X 2 


were actual "grip-claws." For he mentions in his oft-quoted 
work, that he had seen such a claw 20 verschoks (0'9 metre) in 
length, and when he visited St. Petersburg in 1830, the scientific 
men there did not succeed in convincing him that his ideas on 
this subject were incorrect.^ 

A new Jin(l of a mammoth murtimy was made in 1787, when 
the natives informed the Russian travellers Sarytschev and 
Merk, that about 100 versts below the village Alasejsk, situated 
on the river Alasej running into the Polar Sea, a gigantic 
animal had been washed out of the sand beds of the beach 
in an upright posture, undamaged, with hide and hair. The 
find, however, does not appear to have been thoroughly 

In 1799 a Tunguse found on the Tamut Peninsula, which juts 
out into the sea immediately south-east of the river-arm by 
which the Lena steamed up the river, another frozen-in mam- 
moth. He waited patiently five years for the ground thawing 
so nmch as that the precious tusks should be uncovered. The 
softer parts of the animal accordingly were partly torn in pieces 
and destroyed by beasts of prey and dogs, when the place was 
closely examined in 1806 by Adams the Academician. Only 
the head and two of the feet were then almost undamaged. 
The skeleton, part of the hide, a large quantity of long hair and 
woolly hair a foot and a half long were taken away. How fresh 
the carcase was may be seen from the fact that parts of the eye 
could still be clearly distinguished. Similar remains had been 
found two years before, a little further beyond the mouth of the 
Lena, but they were neither examined nor removed.^ 

A new find was made in 1839, when a complete mammoth 
M^as uncovered by a landslip on the shore of a large lake to the 
west of the mouth of the Yenisej, seventy versts from the Polar 
Sea, It was originally almost entire, so that even the trunk 
appears to have been preserved, to judge by the statement of 
the natives that a black tongue as long as a month-old reindeer 
calf was hanging out of the mouth; but it had, when it was 
removed in 1842, by the care of the merchant Trofimov, been 
already much destroyed.* 

^ Hedenstrorn, Otryivlci o Sihiri, St. Petersburg, 1830, p. 125. Ermann's 
Archiv, Part 24, p. 140. 

^ Compare K. E. v. Baer's paper in Melanges Biologiques, T. V. St. P^ters- 
bourg, 1866, p. 691; Middendorff, IV. i. p. 277; Gavrila Sarytschev's 
AchtjUhrige Reise in nordostlichen Bihlrien, etc., translated by J. H. Busse, 
Th. 1, Leipzig, 1805, p. 106. 

>* Adams' account is inserted at p. 431 in the work of Tilesius already 
quoted. Von Baer gives a detailed account of this and other important 
finds of the same nature in the above-quoted paper in Tome V. of Melanges 
Biologiques, St. Petersbourg, pp. 645-740. 

* Middendorff, IV. 1, p. 272. 


Next after Trofimov's mammoth come the manimoih-Jinds of 
Middendorff and Schmidt. The former was made in 1843 on the 
bank of the river Tajmur, under 75^ N.L. ; the latter in 1866 
or the Gyda tundra, west of the mouth of the Yenisej in 70° 13' 
N.L. The soft parts of these ^/inds were not so well preserved 
as those just mentioned. But the Jinds at all events had a 
greater importance for science, from the localities having been 
thoroughly examined by competent scientific men. Middendorff 
arrived at the result that the animal found by him had floated 
from more southerly regions to the place where it was found. 
Schmidt on the other hand found that the stratum which con- 
tained the mammoth rested on a bed of marine clay, containing 
shells of high northern species of Crustacea which still live in the 
Polar Sea, and that it was covered with strata of sand alternat- 
ing with beds, from a quarter to half a foot thick, of decayed 
remains of plants, which completely correspond with the turf 
beds which are still formed in the lakes of the tundra. Even 
the very beds of earth and clay in which the bones, pieces of 
hide, and hair of the mammoth mummy were enclosed, con- 
tained pieces of larch, branches and leaves of the dwarf birch 
(Betula nana), and of two northern species of willow {Salix 
glauca and herhacea).^ It appears from this that the climate of 
Siberia at the time when these mammoth-carcages were im- 
bedded, was very nearly the same as the present, and as the 
stream in whose neighbourhood the find was made is a com- 
paratively inconsiderable tundra river, lying wholly to the north 
of the limit of trees, there is no probability that the carcase 
drifted with the spring ice from the wooded region of Siberia 
towards the north. Schmidt, therefore, supposes that the 
Siberian elephant, if it did not always live in the northern- 
most parts of Asia, occasionally wandered thither, in the same 
way that the reindeer now betakes itself to the coast of the 
Polar Sea. VoN Brandt, Von Schmalhausen, and others, had 
besides already shown that the remains of food which were found 
in the hollow^s of the teeth of the Wilui rhinoceros consisted of 
portions of leaves and needles of species of trees which still 
grow in Siberia.^ 

Soon after the mammoth found on the Gyda tundra had been 
examined by Schmidt, similar finds were examined by Ger- 
hard VON Maydell, at three different places between the rivers 
Kolyma and Indigirka, about a hundred kilometres from the 
Polar Sea. With respect to these fiends I can only refer to a 

^ Friedrich Sclimidt, WissenschaftUche Kesultate der zur Anfsuchung ernes 
Mammuthcadavers auxf/esandten Expedition {Mem. de V Acad, de ISt. Peter.s- 
bourg, Sen VII. T. XV'lII. No. 1, 1872). 

* ijrandt, Berichte der preiissischen Akad. der Wissenchaften, 1846, p. 224. 
Vou Schmalliausen, Bidl. de VAcad. de St. Petersbourg, T. XXII. p. 291. 




paper by L. von Schrenck in the BiUlctin of the St. Petersburg- 
Academy, T. XVI. 1871, p. 147. 

Under the guidance of natives I collected in 1876 at the 
confluence of the river Mesenkin with the Yenisej, in 71° 28' 
N.L., some fragments of bones and pieces of the hide of a 
mammoth. The hide was 20 to 25 millimetres thick and nearly 
tanned by age, which ought not to appear wonderful, when we 
consider that, though the mammoth lived in one of the latest 
periods of the history of our globe, hundreds of thousands, per- 
haps millions of years have, however, passed since the animal 
died to which these pieces of skin once belonged. It was clear 
that they had been washed by the neighbouring river Mesenkin 
out of the tundra-bank, but I endeavoured, without success, to 
discover the original locality, which was probably already con- 
cealed by river mud. In the neighbourhood was found a very 
line cranium of the musk ox. 

A new and important find was made in 1877 on a tributary 
of the Lena, in the circle Werchojansk, in 69° N.L. For there 
was found there an exceedingly well preserved carcase of a 
rhinoceros {Rhinoceros 3IercJdi, Jaeg.), a diiferent species from 
the Wilui rhinoceros examined by Pallas. However, before the 
carcase was washed away by the river, there had only been 
removed the hair-covered head and one foot.^ Prom the find 
Schrenck draws the conclusion that this rhinoceros belonged to 
a high-northern species, adapted to a cold climate, and living in, 
or at least occasionally wandering to, the regions where the 
carcase was found. There the mean temperature of the year 
is now very low,- the winter exceedingly cold ( - 63°'2 has been 
registered) and the short summer exceedingly warm. Nowhere 
on earth does the temperature show extremes so widely sepa- 
rated as here. Although the trees in winter often split with 
tremendous noise, and the ground is rent with the cold, the 
wood is luxuriant and extends to the neighbourhood of the Polar 
Sea, where besides, the winter is much milder than farther in 
the interior. With respect to the possibility of these large 
animals finding sufficient pasture in the regions in question, it 

^ The find is described by Herr Czersky in tbe Transactions published by 
the East Siberian division of the St. Petersburg- Geographical Society ; and 
subsequently by Dr. Leoiiold von Schrenck in Mem. de VAcad. de St. Peters- 
bourg, Sen VII. T. XXVI 1. No. 7, 1880. 

- The mean temperature of tlie different months is shown in tlie following 
table : — 


— 48°-9 

-1- 10° 4 


— 47°-2 

— 33° -9 


— 1-1°0 

-13° -9 


— 0°-40 


— 39°1 

June | 
+ 13°-4 ! 

Of the Year. 

— iG°-r 

+ ll°-9 

+ 2°-3 

Dec. j 

— 45° 7 ; 


ought not to be overlooked that in sheltered places overflowed 
by the spring inundations there are found, still far north of the 
limit of trees, luxuriant bushy thickets, whose newly-expanded 
juicy leaves, burned up by no tropical sun, perhaps form a 
special luxury for grass-eating anin^als, and that even the Ueakcst 
stretches of land in the high north are fertile in comparison with 
many regions where at least the camel can find nourishment, for 
instance the east coast of the Bed Sea. 

The nearer we come to the coast of the Polar Sea, the more 
C(jmmon are the remains of the mammoth, especially at places 
where there have been great landslips at the river banks when 
the ice breaks up in spring. Nowhere, however, are they found 
in such numbers as on the New Siberian Islands. Here Heden- 
stroni in the space of a verst saw ten tusks sticking out of the 
ground, and from a single sandbank on the west side of Liach- 
off's Island the ivory collectors had, when this traveller visited 
the spot, for eighty years made their best tusk harvest. That 
new finds may be made there year by year depends on the bones 
and tusks being washed by the waves out of the sandbeds on 
the shore, so that after an east wind which has lasted some time 
they may be collected at low water on the banks then laid 
dry. The tusks which are found on the coast of the Polar 
Sea are said to be smaller than those that are found farther 
south, a circumstance which j)ossibIy may be explained by 
supposing that, while the mammoth wandered about on the 
plains of Siberia, animals of ditferent ages pastured in com- 
pany, and that the younger of them, as being more agile and 
perhaps more troubled by flies than the older, went farther 
north than these. 

Along with bones of the mammoth there are found on the 
New Siberian Islands, in not inconsiderable numbers, portions of 
the skeletons of other animal fornjs, little known, but naturally 
of immense importance for ascertaining the vertebrate fauna 
which lived at the same time with the mammoth on the plains 
of Siberia, and the New Siberian group of islands is not less 
remarkable for the "wood-hills," highly enigmatical as to their 
mode of formation, which Hedenstrom found on the south coast 
of the northernmost island. These hills are sixty-four metres 
high, and consist of thick horizontal sandstone beds alternating 
with strata of fissile bituminous tree stems, heaped on each 
other to the top of the hill. In the lower part of the hill the 
tree stems lie horizontally, but in the upper strata they stand 
upright, though jDerhaps not rootfast.^ The flora and fauna of 
the island group besides are still completely unknown, and the 
fossils, among them ammonites with exc|uisite pearly lustre, 

^ Hedenstrijin, loc. c'lt. p. 128. To find stranded driftwood in an upriglit 
position is nothing uncommon. 




which Hedenstrom brought home from the rock strata on 
Kotehioj Island, hold out inducement to further researches, 
which ought to yield the geologist valuable information as to the 
former climate and the former distribution of land and sea on 
the surface of the globe. The knowledge of the hydrography 
of this region is besides an indispensable condition for judging 
of tlie state of the ice in the sea which washes the north coast 
of Asia. Here lies the single available starting-point for the 
exploration of the yet altogether unknown sea farther to the north, 
and from hills on the two northernmost islands Hedenstrom 
thougfht that across the sea to the north-west and north-east he 


After a drawing by O. Nordqnist. 

saw obscure outlines of new land, on which no man had yet set 
his foot. All these circumstances confer on this group of islands 
an uncommon interest in a scientific and geographical respect, 
and therefore no long time can elapse until a scientific ex- 
pedition be sent to these regions. Just for this reason I now 
desired, as a preparation for a future voyage, to wander about 
here for a coviple of days, partly on foot, partly by boat. 

The air was calm, but for the most part clouded, the 
temperature as high as -1- 4°, the sea clear of ice, the salinity of 
the water 1 "8 per cent, with a temperature of -F 2° to -f 3°. At 
first we made rapid progress, but after having in the after- 
noon of the 28th August sighted the westernmost islands, 


Semenoffskoj and Stolbovoj, the sea became so shallow that for 
long stretches we were compelled to sail in six to seven metres 
water. Some very rotten ice, or rather ice sludge, was also met 
with, Avhich compelled us to make tedious detours, and prevented 
the Vega from going at full speed. 

The animal life was among the scantiest I had seen during my 
many travels in the Polar Seas. A few seals were visible. Of 
birds we saw some terns and gulls, and even far out at sea 
a pretty large number of phalaropes — the most common kind of 
bird on the coast of the Asiatic Polar Sea, at least in autumn. 
Stolbovoj Island was, especially on the north side, high with 
precipitous shore-cliffs which afforded splendid breeding-places 
for looms, black guillemots and giiUs. At all such cliffs there 
breed on Sj^itzbergen millions of sea fowl, which are met with 
out on the surrounding sea in great flocks searching for their 
food. Here not a single loom was seen, and even the number of 
the gulls was small, which indeed in some degree was to be 
accounted for by the late season of the year, but also by the 
circumstance that no colony of birds had settled on the rocky 
shores of the island. 

The sea bottom consisted at certain places of hard packed 
sand, or rather, as I shall endeavour to show farther on, of 
frozen sand, from which the trawl net brought up no animals. 
At other places there was found a clay, exceedingly rich in 
Icloihea cntomon and Sahinei and an extraordinary mass of 
bryozoa, resembling collections of the eggs of mollusca. 

It was not until the 80th of August that we were off the west. 
side of Ljachoff's Island, on which I intended to land. The 
north coast, and, as it appeared the day after, the east coast was 
clear of ice, but the winds recently prevailing had heaped a 
mass of rotten ice on the west coast. The sea besides was so 
shallow here, that already at a distance 15' from land we hail 
a depth of only eight metres. The ice heaped against the west 
roast of the island did not indeed form any very serious obstacle 
to the advance of the Vega, but in case we had attempted to 
land there it might have been inconvenient enough, when the 
considerable distance between the vessel and the land was to 
be traversed in a boat or the steam launch, and it might even, 
if a sudden frost had occurred, have become a fetter, which would 
have confined us to that spot for the winter. Even a storm 
arising hastily might in this shallow water have been actually 
dangerous to the vessel anchored in an open road. The prospect 
of wandering about for some days on the island did not appear 
to me to outweigh the danger of the possible failure of the main 
object of the expedition. I therefore gave up for the time 
my intention of landing. The course was shaped southwards 
towards the sound, of so bad repute in the history of the 




Siberian Polar Sea, which separates Ljachoff's Island from the 

So far as we could judge at a distance from the appearance 
of the rocks, Stolbovoj consisted of stratified rocks, Ljachoff's 
Island, on the contrary, like the mainland opposite, of high 
hills, much shattered, probably formed of Plutonic stone-masses. 


From the sea north of the mouth of the Lena. 
(Natural size.) 

Between these there are extensive plains, which, according to 
a statement by the land surveyor Chvoinoff, who by order of 
the Czar visited the island in 1775, are formed of ice and sand, 
in which lie imbedded enormous masses of the bones and tusks 
of the mammoth, mixed with the horns and skulls of some 
kind of ox and with rhinoceros' horns. Bones of the whale and 




walrus are not mentioned as occurring there, but " long small 
screw-formed bones," by which are probably meant the tusks 
of the narwhal.^ 

All was now clear of snow, with the exception of a few of 
the deeper clefts between the mountains. No traces of glaciers 
were visible, not even such small collections of ice as are to be 


From the sea off the mouth of the Lena 
(Natural size.) 

found everywhere on Spitzbergen where the land rises a few 
hundred feet above the surface of the sea. Nor, to judge by 

1 ^lartin Sauer, A ii account of a Geocjraphiral and Astronomical Expedit'w)i 
to the Xorthern parts of Russia by Commodore Joseph Billings, London, 
1802, p. 105, The walrus does not occur in the sea between the nioutli 
of the Chatanga and Wrangel Laud, and large whales are never seen at 
the New Siherian Islands, but during Hedenstiom's stay in these regions 
three narwhals were enclosed in the ice near the shore at the mouth of tlie 
Yaua (Otrijicki o Sihiri, p. 131). 

31fi THE VOYAGE O'd' THE VEGA. [chap. 

the appearance of the hills, have there been any glaciers in 
former times, and this is certainly the case on the mainland. 
The northernmost part of Asia in that case has never been 
covered by such an ice-sheet as is* assumed by the supporters 
of a general ice age embracing the whole globe.. 

The large island right opposite to Svjatoinos was discovered 
in 1770 by LjACHOFF, whose name the island now bears. In 
1788 Billings' private secretary, Martin Sauer, met with 
Ljachoff at Yakutsk^ but he was then old and infirm, on which 
account, when Sauer requested information regarding the 
islands in the Polar Sea, he referred him to one of his com- 
panions, Zaitai Protodiakonoff. He informed him that 
the discovery was occasioned by an enormous herd of reindeer 
which Ljachoff, in the month of April 1770, saw going from 
Svjatoinos towards the south, and whose track came over the 
ice from the north. On the correct supposition that the reindeer 
came from some land lying to the north, Ljachoff followed the 
track in a dog-sledge, and thus discovered the two most southerlv 
of the New Siberian Islands, a discovery which was rewarded 
by the Czarina Catherine II. with the exclusive right to hunt 
and collect ivory on them.^ 

Ljachoff states the breadth of the sound between the main- 
land and the nearest large island at 70 versts or 40'. On 
Wrangel's map again the breadth is not quite 30'. On the 
mainland side it is bounded by a rocky headland projecting 
far into the sea, which often formed the turning point in 
attempts to penetrate eastwards from the mouth of the river 
Lena, and perhaps just on that account, like many other head- 
lands dangerous to the navigator on the north coast of Russia, 
was called Svjatoinos (the holy cape), a name which for the 
oldest Russian Polar Sea navigators appears to have had the 
same signification as "the cape that can be passed with difticulty." 
No one however now thinks with any apprehension of the 
two "holy capes," which in former times limited the voyages of 
the Russians and Fins living on the White Sea to the east and 
west, and this, I am quite convinced, will some time be the case 
with this and all other holy capes in the Siberian Polar Sea. 

The sea water in the sound was much mixed with river water 
and had a comparatively high temperature, even at a depth of 
nine to eleven metres. The animal life at the sea bottom was 
poor in species but rich in individuals, consisting principally of 

1 Martin Sauer, An account of a Geographical and, Astronomical Expedition 
to the Northern parts of Russia hij Commodore Joseph Billings, London, 
1802, p. 103. A. Ermann, Reist urn die Erde, Berlin, 1833—48, D. 1, B. 2, 
p. 258. Ermann' s statement, that the knowledge of the existence of these 
islands was concealed from the government up to the year 1806, is clearly 




Idothea cntomon, of which Dr. Stuxberg counted 800 specimens 
from a single sweep of the dredge. There were obtained at the 
same time, besides a few specimens of Idothea Sahinei, sponges 
and bryozoa in great abundance, and small mussels, Crustacea, 
vermes, &c. Various fishes were also caught, and some small 
alg£e collected. The trawl-net besides brought up from the 
bottom some fragments of mammoth tusks, and a large number 
of pieces of wood, for the most part sticks or branches, which 
appear to have stood upright in the clay, to judge from the fact 
that one of their ends was often covered with living bryozoa. 
These sticks often caused great inconvenience to the dredgers, 
by tearing the net that was being dragged along the bottom. 

ljachoff's island. 
After a drawing by O. Nordquist. 

On the night preceding the 31st of August, as we steamed 
past Svjatoinos, a peculiar phenomenon was observed. . The sky 
was clear in the zenith and in the east ; in the west, on the other 
hand, there was a bluish-grey bank of cloud. The temperature 
of the water near the surface varied between + 1° and + 1°"6, 
that of the air on the vessel between + l°-o and + 1°'8. Although 
thus both the air and the water had a temperature somewhat 
above the freezing-point, ice was seen to form on the calm, 
mirror-bright surface of the sea. This ice consisted partly of 
needles, partly of a thin sheet. I have previously on several 
occasions observed in the Arctic seas a similar phenomenon, 
that is to sav, have observed the formation of ice when the 


temperature of the air was above the freezing-point. On this 
occasion, when the temperature of the uppermost stratum ot 
water was also above the freezing-point, the formation of ice 
was clearly a sort of hoar-frost phenomenon, caused by radiation 
of heat, perhaps both upwards towards the atmosphere and 
downwards towards the bottom layer of water, cooled below 
the freezing-point. 

The whole day we continued our voyage eastwards with 
glorious weather over a smooth ice-free sea, and in the same 
way on the 1st September, with a gentle southerly wind, the 
temperature of the air at noon in the shade being + 5°"6. On 
the night before the 2nd September the wind became northerly 
and the temperature of the air sank to — 1°. Little land was 
seen, though we were still not very far from the coast. Near to 
it there was a broad ice-free, or nearly ice -free, channel, but 
farther out to sea ice conmienced. The following nig^ht snow 
fell, so that the whole of the deck and the Bear Islands, which 
we reached on the 3rd September, were sprinkled with it. 

Hitherto, during the whole time Ave sailed along the coast, we 
had scarcely met with any fields of drift-ice but such as were 
formed of rotten, even, thin and scattered pieces of ice, in many 
places almost converted into ice-sludge, without an "ice-foot" 
and often dirty on the surface. No iceberg had been seen, nor 
any large glacier ice-blocks, such as on the coasts of Spitzbergen 
replace the Greenland icebergs. But east of Svjatoinos the ice 
began to increase in size and assume the same appearance as 
the ice north of Spitzbergen. It was here, besides, less dirty, and 
rested on a hard ice-foot projecting deep under water and 
treacherous for the navigator. 

The ice of the Polar Sea may be divided into the following 
varieties : — 

1. Icebergs. The true icebergs have a height above the 
surface of the water rising to 100 metres. They often ground 
in a depth of 200 to 300 metres, and have thus sometimes 
a cross section of up to 400, perhaps 500 metres. Their area 
may amount to several square kilometres. Such enormous 
blocks of ice are projected into the North Polar Sea only from 
the glaciers of Greenland, and according to Payer's statement, 
from those of Franz-Josef Land also ; but not, as some authors 
(Geikie, Brown, and others) appear to assume and have shown 
by incorrect ideal drawings, from glaciers which project into the 
sea and there terminate with a perpendicular evenly-cut border, 
but from very uneven glaciers which always enter the sea in the 
bottoms of deep fjords, and are split up into icebergs long befoi'e 
they reach it. It is desirable that those who write on the 
origin of icebergs, should take into consideration the fact that 
icebergs are oidy formed at places where a violent motion takes 


place iu the mass of the ice, which again within a comparatively 
short time results in the excavation of the deep ice-fjord. The 
largest iceberg, which, so far as I know, has been measured in 
that part of the Polar Sea which lies between Spitzbergen and 
Wrangel Land, is one which Barents saw at Cape Nassau 
on the rth August 1596. It was sixteen fathoms high, and had 
grounded in a depth of thirty-six fathoms. In the South Polar 
Sea icebertjs occur in o;reat numbers and of enormous size. If 
we may assume that they have an origin similar to those 
of Greenland, it is probable that round the South Pole there 
is an extensive continent indented by deep fjords. 

2. Glacier Icc-hlocks. These, which indeed have often been 
called icebergs, are distinguished from true icebergs not only 
by their size, but also by the way in which they are formed. 
They have seldom a cross section of more than thirty or forty 
metres, and it is only exceptionally that they are more 
than ten metres high above the surface of the water. They 
originate from the " calving " of glaciers which project into 
the sea with a straight and evenly high precipitous border. 
Such glaciers occur in large numbers on the coasts of Spitzbergen, 
and they are there of the same height as similar evenly-cut 
o-laciers on Greenland. According to the statement of the 
Dane Petersen, who took part both in Kane's expedition in 
1853-55 and in Torell's in 1861, the glaciers, for instance, at 
Hinloopen Strait in Spitzbergen, are fully equal, with respect 
to their size and the height of their borders above the sea-level, 
to the enormous and much be written Humboldt glacier in Green- 
land. In Spitzbergen too we find at two places miniatures of 
the Greenland ice-currents, for instance the glacier which filled 
the North Haven in Bell Sound, another glacier which filled 
an old Dutch whaling haven between Recherche Bay and Van 
Keulen Bay, a glacier on the north side of Wahlenberg Bay 
and perhaps at that part of the inland ice marked in my 
map of the expedition of 1872 as a bay on the east coast 
of North-east Land. It is even possible that small icebergs 
may be projected from the last-mentioned place, and thence drift 
out into the sea on the east coast of Spitzbergen. 

Glacier-ice shows a great disposition • to fall asunder into 
smaller jjieces without any perceptible cause. It is full of cavi ties, 
containing compressed air, which, when the ice melts, bursts 
its attenuated envelope with a crackling sound like that of the 
electric spark. It thus behaves in this respect in the same 
way as some mineral salts which dissolve in water with slight 
explosions. Barents relates that on the ^^th August 1596 he 
anchored his vessel to a block of ice which was aground on the 
coast of Novaya Zemlya. Suddenly, and without any perceptible 
cause, the rock of ice burst asunder into. hundreds of smaller 


pieces with a tremendous noise, and to the great terror of all the 
men on board. Similar occurrences on a smaller scale I 
have myself witnessed. The cause to which they are due 
appears to me to be the following. The ice-block while part 
of the glacier is exposed to very severe pressure, which ceases 
when it falls into the sea. The pressure now in most cases 
equalises itself without any bursting asunder, but it sometimes 
liappens that the inner strongly compressed portions of the ice- 
block cannot, although the pressure has ceased, expand freely 
in consequence of the continuous ice-envelope by which they 
are still surrounded. A powerful internal tension must thereby 
arise in the whole mass, which ^.nally leads to its bursting into 
a thousand pieces. We have here a Prince Rupert's drop, but 
one w^hose diameter may rise to fifty metres, and which consists 
not of glass but of ice. 

Glacier ice-blocks occur abundantly on the coasts of Spitz- 
bergen and north Novaya Zemlya, but appear to be wanting or 
exceedingly rare along the whole north coast of Asia, between 
Yugor Schar and Wrangel Land. East of this they again 
occur, but not in any great numbers. This appears to show 
that the Western Siberian Polar Sea is not surrounded by any 
glacial lands. The glacier ice is commonly of a blue colour. 
When melted it yields a pure water, free of salt. Sometimes 
however it gives traces of salt, which are derived from the spray 
which the storms have carried high up on the surface of 
the glacier. 

3. Pieces of ice from the ice-foot formed along the sea beach 
or the banks of rivers. They rise sometimes five or six metres 
above the surface of the water. They consist commonly of dirty 
ice, mixed with earth. 

4. River Ice, level, comparatively small ice fields, which, 
when they reach the sea, are already so rotten that they soon 
melt away and disappear. 

5. The walrus-hunters' Bay Ice ; by which we understand level 
ice-fields formed in fjords and bays along the coast, and which 
have there been exposed to a comparatively early summer heat. 
The bay ice therefore melts away completely during summer, 
and it is not commonly much pressed together. When all the 
snow upon it has disappeared, there is to be seen above the 
surface of the water a little ice of the same colour as the water, 
while under water very considerable portions of unmelted hard 
ice are still remaining. This has given rise to the walrus- 
hunters' statement, which has been warmly maintained, that the 
ice in autumn finally disappears by sinking. Nearly all the ice 
we met with in the course of our vo3'age belonged to this 

6. iSea Ice, or heavy ice, which often exhibits traces of having 


been mucli pressed together, but has not been exposed to any- 
early summer heat. The wah^us-hunters call it sea ice, wishing, 
I imagine, to indicate thereby that it is formed in the sea 
farther up towards the north. That it has drifted down from 
the north is indeed correct, but that it has been formed far 
from land over a considerable depth in the open sea is perhaps 
uncertain, as the ice that is formed there cannot, we think, 
be very thick. It has rather perhaps drifted down from the 
neighbourhood of some yet unknown Polar continent. Of 
this ice are formed most of the ice-fields in the seas east 
of Greenland, north of Spitzbergen, between Spitzbergen and 
the north island of Novaya Zemlya, and north of Behring's 
Straits. In the northern seas it does not melt completely 
during the summer, and remains of sea ice therefore often 
enter as component parts into the bay ice formed during the 
following winter. The latter then becomes rough and uneven, 
from remnants of old sea ice being frozen into the newly formed 
ice. Sea ice is often pressed together so as to form great 
torosses or ice-casts, formed of pieces of ice which at first are 
angular and piled loose on each other, but gradually become 
rounded, and freeze together into enormous blocks of ice, which, 
together with the glacier ice-blocks, form the principal mass 
of the ground ice found on the coasts of the Polar lands. The 
water which is obtained by melting sea-ice is not completely 
free from salt, but the older it is the less salt does it contain. 

East of the Bear Islands heavy sea-ice in pretty compact 
masses had drifted down towards the coast, but still left an 
open ice-free channel along the land. Here the higher animal 
world was exceedingly poor, which, as far as the avi-fauna was 
concerned, must be in some degree ascribed to the late season 
of the year. For Wrangel mentions a cliff at the Bear Islands 
which was covered with numberless birds' nests. He saw 
besides, on the largest of these islands, traces of the bear, wolf, 
fox, lemming, and reindeer (Wrangel's Bcise, i. pp. 304 and 
327). Now the surrounding sea was completely deserted.' No 
Polar bear saluted us from the ice-floes, no walruses, and only 
very few seals were visible. During many watches not a single 
natatory bird was seen. Only the phalarope was still met with 
in large numbers, even pretty far out at sea. Perhaps it was 
then mio^ratinoj from the north. The lower animal world was 
more abundant. From the surface of the sea the drag-net 
brought up various small surface Crustacea, inconsiderable in 
themselves, but important as food for larger animals ; and from 
the sea-bottom were obtained a large number of the same animal 
forms as from the sound at Svjatoinos, and in addition some 
beautiful asterids and a multitude of very large beaker sponges. 





On tlie 3rd September, after we had sailed past the Bear 
Islands, the course was shaped right for Cape Chelagskoj. This 
course, as will be seen by a glance at the map, carried us far 
from the coast, and thus out of the channel next the land, in 
which we had hitherto sailed. The ice was heavy and close, 
although at first so distributed that it was navigable. But with 
a north wind, which began to blow on the night before the 
1st September, the temperature fell below the freezing-point, 
and the water between the pieces of drift-ice was covered with a 
very thick crust of ice, and the drift-ice came closer and closer 
together. It thus became impossible to continue the course 
which we had taken. We therefore turned towards the land, 
and at 6 o'clock P.M., after various bends in the ice and a few 
concussions against the pieces of ice that barred our way, again 


From the sea off the mouth of the Kolyina. 

reached the ice-free channel, eight to twelve kilometres broad, 
next the land. While we lay a little way in among the drift- 
ice fields we could see no sign of open water, but it appeared as 
if the compact ice extended all the way to land, a circumstance 
which shows how careful the navigator ought to be in express- 
ino' an opinion as to the nature of the ])acJ>: beyond the imme- 
diate neighbourhood of the vessel. The temperature of the air, 
which in the ice-field had sunk to — 3°, now rose at once to 
+ 4°'l, while that of the water rose from — 1°"2 to + 3°"5, 
and its salinity fell from 2'4 to 1"3 per cent. All showed that 
we had now come into the current of the Kolyma, Avhich from 
causes which have been already stated, runs from the mouth of 
the river along the land in an easterly direction. 




The Bear Islands lying off the mouth of the Kolyma are, 
for the most part, formed of a plutonic rock, whose upper part 
has weathered away, leaving gigantic isolated pillars. Four 
such pillars have given to the easternmost of the islands the 
name Lighthouse Island (Fyrpelaron). Similar ruin-like form- 
ations are found not only on Cape Baranov, which lies right 
opposite, but also at a great number of other places in that 
portion of the north coast of Siberia which lies farther to the 
east. Generally these cliff-ruins are collected together over 
considerable areas in groups or regular rows. They have thus, 
when seen from the sea, so bewildering a resemblance to the 
ruins of a gigantic city which had once been surrounded by 
strong walls and been full of temples and splendid buildings, 


After a drawing by O. Nordquist. 

that one is almost tempted to see in them memorials of the 
exploits of a Tamerlane or a Chingis Khan up here in the 
high north. 

The north side of the hill-tops was powdered with new-fallen 
snow, but the rest of the land was clear of snow. The distance 
between the south point of Ljachoffs Island and the Bear 
Islands is 360'. This distance we had traversed in three days, 
having thus made 120' in the twenty-four hours, or 5' per hour. 
If we consider the time lost in dredging, sounding, and determin- 
ing the temperature and salinity of the water, and the caution 
which the navigator must observe during a voyage in quite 
unknown waters, this speed shows that during this part of our 

Y 2 


voyage we were hindered by ice only to a slight extent. Cape 
Baranov was passed on the night before the 5th September, the 
mouth of Chann Bay on the night before the 6th September, 
and Cape Chelagskoj was reached on the 6th at 4 o'clock p.m. 
The distance in a right line between this headland and the Bear 
Islands is 180'. In consequence of the many detours in the ice 
we had required 2^ days to traverse this distance, which cor- 
responds to 72' per day, or 3' per hour, a speed which in a 
voyage in unknown, and for the most part ice-bestrewed waters, 
must yet be considered very satisfactory. But after this our 
progress began to be much slower. At midnight the sun was 
already 12° to 13° below the horizon, and the nights were now 
so dark that at that time of day we were compelled to lie still 
anchored to some large ground-ice, A further loss of time was 
caused by the dense fog which often prevailed by day, and which 
in the unknown shallow water next the land compelled Captain 
Palander to advance with extreme caution. The navigation 
along the north coast of Asia began to get somewhat monotonous. 
Even the most zealous Polar traveller may tire at last of mere 
ice, shallow water and fog; and mere fog, shallow water and ice. 
Now, however, a pleasant change began, by our coming at 
last in contact with natives. In the whole stretch from Yugor 
Schar to Cape Chelagskoj we had seen neither men nor human 
habitations, if I except the old uninhabited hut between Cape 
Chelyuskin and the Chatanga. But on the 6th Sei^tember, 
when we were a little way off Cape Chelagskoj, two boats were 
sighted. Every man, with the exception of the cook, who 
could be induced by no catastrophe to leave his pots and pans, 
and who had circumnavigated Asia and Europe perhajDS without 
having been once on land, rushed on deck. The boats were of 
skin, built in the same way as the " umiaks " or women's boats 
of the Eskimo. They were fully laden with laughing and 
chatterinor natives, men, women, and children, who indicated 
by cries and gesticulations that they wished to come on board. 
The engine was stopped, the boats lay to, and a large number 
of skin-clad, bare-headed beings climbed up over the gunwale in 
a way that clearly indicated that they had seen vessels before. 
A lively talk began, but we soon became aware that none of the 
crew of the boats or the vessel knew any language common to 
both. It was an unfortunate circumstance, but signs were 
employed as far as possible. This did not prevent the chatter 
from going on, and great gladness soon came to prevail, especially 
when some presents began to be distributed, mainly consisting 
of tobacco and Dutch clay pipes. It was remarkable that none 
of them could speak a single word of Russian, while a boy 
could count tolerably well up to ten in English, which shows that 
the natives here come into closer contact with American whalers 


than with Russian traders. They acknowledged the name 
chuJich or chautchu. 

Many of them were tall, well-grown men. They were clothed 
in close fitting skin trousers and "pesks" of reindeer skin. The 
head was bare, the hair always clipped short, with the exception 
of a small fringe in front, where the hair had a length of four 
centimetres and was combed down over the brow. Some had a 
cap of the sort used by the Russians at Chabarova, stuck into 
the belt behind, but they appeared to consider the weather still 
too warm for the use of this head-covering. The hair of most 
of them was bluish-black and exceedingly thick. The women 
were tattooed with black or bluish-black lines on the brow and 
nose, a number of similar lines on the chin, and finally some 
embellishments on the cheeks. The type of face did not strike 


one as so unpleasant as that of the Samoyeds or Eskimo. Some 
of the young girls were even not absolutely ugly. In comparison 
with the Samoyeds they were even rather cleanly, and had a 
beautiful, almost reddish-white complexion. Two of the men 
were quite fair. Probably they were descendants of Russians, 
who for some reason or other, as prisoners of war or fugitives, 
had come to live among the Chukches and had been nationalised 
by them. 

In a little we continued our voyage, after the Chukches had 
returned to their boats, evidently well pleased with the gifts 
they had received and the leaf tobacco I had dealt out in 
bundles, — along with the clay pipes, of which every one got as 
many as he could carry between his fingers, — with the finery and 




old clofclies which my comrades and the crew strewed around 
them with generous hand. For we were all convinced that after 
some days we should come to waters where winter clothes would 
be altogether unnecessary, where our want of any article could 
easily be supplied at the nearest port, and where the means of 
exchange would not consist of goods, but of stamped pieces of 
metal and slips of paper. 

On the 7th ?^eptember, we steamed the whole day along the 


After a rhotograph by L. Palander. 

CDast in pretty open ice. At night we lay to at a floe. The 
hemjaen tangles and the trawl-net were put out and yielded a 
very rich harvest. But in the morning we fovmd ourselves 
again so surrounded by ice and fog, that, after several unsuccess- 
ful attempts to make an immediate advance, we were compelled 
to lie-to at a large piece of drift-ice near the shore. When the 
fog had lightened so much that the vessel could be seen from 
the land, we were again visited by a large number of natives, 
whom as before we entertained as best we could. They invited 


us by evident signs to land and visit their tents. As it was in 
any case impossible immediately to continue our voyage, I 
accepted the invitation, ordered a boat to be put out, and landed 
along with most of my comrades. 

The beach here is formed of a low bank of sand Avhich runs 
between the sea and a small shallow lagoon or fresh-water lake, 
whose surface is nearly on a level with that of the sea. Farther 
into the interior the land rises gradually to bare hills, clear of 
snow or only covered with a thin coating of powdered snow 
from the fall of the last few days. Lagoon formations, with 
either fi'esh or salt water, of the same kind as those which we 
saw here for the first time, are distinctive of the north-eastern 
coast of Siberia. It is these formations which gave rise to the 
statement that on the north coast of Siberia it is difficult to 
settle the boundaries between sea and land. In winter this may 
be difficult enough, for the low bank which separates the lagoon 
from the sea is not easily distinguished when it has become 
covered with snow, and it may therefore readily happen in winter 
journeys along the coast that one is far into the land while he 
still believes himself to be out on the sea-ice. But when the 
snow has melted, the boundary is sharp enough, and the sea by 
no means shallow for such a distance as old accounts would 
indicate. A continual ice-mud-work also goes on here during 
the whole summer. Quite close to the beach accordingly the 
depth of water is two metres, and a kilometre farther out ten to 
eleven metres. Off the high rocky promontories the water is 
commonly navigable even for vessels of considerable draught 
close to the foot of the cliffs. 

The villages of the Chukches commonly stand on the bank of 
sand which sej)arates the lagoon from the sea. The dwellings 
consist of roomy skin tents, which enclose a sleeping chamber of 
the form of a j)arallelopiped surrounded by warm well-prepared 
reindeer skins, and lighted and warmed by one or more train-oil 
lamps. It is here that the family sleep during summer, and 
here most of them live day and night during winter. In sum- 
mer, less frequently in winter, a fire is lighted besides in the 
outer tent with wood, for which purpose a hole is opened in the 
top of the raised tent-roof. But to be compelled to use wood 
for heating the inner tent the Chukches consider the extremity 
of scarcity of fuel. 

We were received ever3nvhere in a very friendly way, and were 
offered whatever the house afforded. At the time the supply 
of food was abundant. In one tent reindeer beef was being 
boiled in a large cast-iron pot. At another two recently shot 
or slaughtered reindeer were being cut in pieces. At a third an 
old woman was employed in taking out of the paunch of the 
reindeer the green spinage-like contents and cramming them 




into a sealskin bag, evidently to be preserved for green food 
during winter. The hand was used in this case as a scoop, and 
the naked arms were coloured high up with the certainly un- 
appetising spinage, which hoAvever, according to the statements 
of Danish colonists in Greenland, has no unpleasant taste. Other 
skin sacks filled with train-oil stood in rows along the walls of 
the tent. 

The Chukches offered train-oil for sale, and appeared to be 
surjOTsed that we would not purchase any. In all the tents 
were found seals cut in pieces, a proof that the catch of seals had 
recently been abundant. At one tent lay two fresh walrus heads 
with large beautiful tusks. I tried without success to purchase 
these heads, but next day the tusks were offered to vis. The 


(After a photograph by L. Palander.) 

Chukches appear to have a prejudice against disposing of 
the heads of slain animals. According to older travellers they 
even pay the walrus-head a sort of worship. 

Children were met with in great numbers, healthy and 
thriving. In the inner tent the older children went nearly 
naked, and I saw them go out from it without shoes or other 
covering and run between the tents on the hoarfrost-covered 
ground. The younger were carried on the shoulders both of 
men and women, and were then so wrapped up that they 
resembled balls of skin. The children were treated with marked 
friendliness, and the older ones were never heard to utter an 
angry word. I purchased here a large number of household 
articles and dresses, which I shall describe further on. 


Oil the morning of the 9th September we endeavoured to 
steam on, but were soon compelled by the dense fog to lie-to 
again at a ground-ice, which, when the fog lightened, was found 
to have stranded quite close to land. The depth here was 
eleven metres. At this place we lay till the morning of the 
10th. The beach was formed of a sandbank,^ which immediately 
above high-water mark was covered with a close grassy turf, a 
proof that the climate here, notwithstanding the neighbourhood 
of the pole of cold, is much more favourable to the develop- 
ment of vegetation than even the most favoured parts of the 
Avest coast of Spitzbergen. Farther inland was seen a very high, 
but snow-free, range of hills, and far beyond them some high 
snow-covered mountain summits. No glaciers were found here, 
though I consider it probable that small ones may be found in 
the valleys between the high fells in the interior. Nor were 
any erratic blocks found either in the interior of the coast 
country or along the strand bank. Thus it is probable that no 
such ice-covered land as Greenland for the present bounds the 
Siberian Polar Sea towards the north. At two places at the 
level of the sea in the neighbourhood of our anchorage the solid 
rock was bare. There it formed perpendicular shore cliffs, nine 
to twelve metres high, consisting of magnesian slate, limestone 
more or less mixed with quartz, and silicious slate. The strata 
were nearly perpendicular, ran from north to south, and did not 
contain any fossils. From a geological point of view therefore 
these rocks were of little interest. But they were abundantly 
covered with lichens, and yielded to Dr. Almquist important 
contributions to a knowledge of the previously quite unknown 
lichen flora of this region. 

The harvest of the higher land plants on the other hand was, 
in consequence of the far advanced season of the year, incon- 
siderable, if also of great scientific interest, as coming from a 
region never before visited by any botanist. In the sea Dr. 
Kjellman dredged without success for algse. Of the higher 
animals we saw only a walrus and some few seals, but no land 
mammalia. Lemmings must however occasionally occur in 
incredible numbers, to judge by the holes and passages, ex- 
cavated by these animals, by which the ground is crossed in all 
directions. Of birds the phalarope was still the most common 

^ Of course the earth here at an inconsiderable depth under the surface 
is constantly frozen, but I have nowhere seen such alternating layers of 
eartli and ice, crossed by veins of ice, as Hedenstrbm in his oft-quoted 
work [Otnjivki Slbiri, p. 119) says he found at the sea-coast. Probably 
such a peculiar formation arises only at places where the spring floods bring 
down thick layers of mud, which cover tlie beds of ice formed during the 
winter and protect them for thousands of years from melting. I shall have 
an opportunity of returning to the interesting questions relating to this 




species, especially at sea, where in flocks of six or seven it swam 
incessantly backwards and forwards between the pieces of ice. 

No tents were met with in the neighbourhood of the vessel's 
anchorage, but at many places along the beach there were seen 
marks of old encampments, sooty rolled stones which had been 
used in the erection of the tents, broken household articles, and 
above all remains of the bones of the seal, reindeer, and walrus. 
At one place, a large number of walrus skulls lay in a ring, 
possibly remains from an entertainment following a large catch. 
Near the place where the tents had stood, at the mouth of a small 
stream not yet dried up or frozen. Dr. Stuxberg discovered some 
small mounds containing burnt bones. The cremation had been 
so complete that only one of the pieces of bone that were found 
could be determined by Dr. Almquist. It was a human tooth. 
After'cremation the remains of the bones and the ash had been 
collected in an excavation, and covered first with turf and then 
with small flat stones. The encamjDments struck me as having 





(Alter a drawing by A. Stuxberg.) 
a. Layer of burned bones, much weathered. b. Layer of turf and twigs. 

c. Stones. 

been abandoned only a few years ago, and even the collections 
of bones did not appear to me to be old. But we ought to be 
very cautious when we endeavour in the Arctic regions to 
estimate the age of an old encampment, because in judging of 
the changes which the surface of the earth undergoes with time 
we are apt to be guided by our experience from more southerly 
regions. To how limited an extent this experience may be 
utilised in the high north is shown by Rink's assertion that on 
Greenland at some of the huts of the Norwegian colonists, 
which have been deserted for centuries, footpaths can still be 

1 Since we discovered the Chukches also bury their dead by laying 
them out on the tundra, we have begun to entertain doubts wliether the 
collection of bones delineated here was actually a grave. Possibly the':e 
mounds were only the remains of fireplaces, where the Chukches had used 
as fuel train-drenched bones, and which they had afterwards for some reason 
or other endeavoured to protect from the action of the atmosphere. 


distinguished,^ an observation to which I would scarcely give 
credence, until I had myself seen something similar at the site 
of a house in the bottom of Jacobshaven ice-fjord in north- 
western Greenland, which had been abandoned for one or two 
centuries. Here footpaths as sharply defined as if they had been 
trampled yesterday ran from the ruin in different directions. 
It may therefore very readily happen that the encampments in 
the neighbourhood of our present anchorage were older than we 
would be inclined at first sight to suppose. No refuse heaps of 
any importance were seen here. 

This was the first time that any vessel had lain-to on this 
coast. Our arrival was therefore evidently considered by the 
natives a very remarkable occurrence, and the report of it 
appears to have spread very rapidly. For though there were 
no tents in the neighbourhood, we had many visitors. I still 
availed myself of the opportunity of procuring by barter a 
large number of articles distinctive of the Chukches' mode of 
life. Eight years before I had collected and purchased a large 
number of ethnographical articles, and I was now surprised at 
the close correspondence there was between the household 
articles purchased from the Chukches, and those found in 
Greenland in old Eskimo graves. 

My traffic with the natives was on this occasion attended with 
great difficulty. For I suffered from a sensible want of the first 
condition for the successful prosecution of a commercial under- 
taking, goods in demand. Because, during the expeditions of 
1875 and 1876, I found myself unable to make use of the 
small wares I carried with me for barter with the natives, and 
found that Russian paper-money was readily taken. I had, at 
the deiJarture of the Vega from Sweden, taken with me only 
money, not wares intended for barter. But money was of little 
use here. A twenty-five rouble note was less valued by the 
Chukches than a showy soap-box, and a gold or silver coin less 
than tin or brass buttons. I could, indeed, get rid of a few 
fifty-ore pieces, but only after I had first adapted them by 
b(jring to take the place of earrings. 

The only proper wares for barter I now had were tobacco and 
Dutch clay pipes. Of tobacco I had only some dozen bundles, 
taken from a parcel which Mr. Sibiriakoff intended to import into 
Siberia by theYenisej. Certain as I was of reaching the Pacific 
this autumn, I scattered my stock of tobacco around me with 
so liberal a hand that it was soon exhausted, and my Chukch 
friends' wants satisfied for several weeks. I therefore, as far as 
this currency was concerned, already when the Vega was beset, 
suffered the prodigal's fate of being soon left with an empty 

1 H. Kink, Grvtiland gcogroj^hlnl- og slafisiisl- heskrevet, Bd. 2, Copenhagen, 
1857, p. 344. 


purse. Dutch clay pipes, again, I had in great abundance, from 
the accident that two boxes of these pipes, which were to have 
been imported into Siberia with the expedition of 1876, did not 
reach Trondhjem until the Ymcr had sailed from that town. 
They were instead taken on the Ver/a, and now, though quite 
too fragile for the hard iino-ers of Chukches, answered well for 
smaller bargains, as gifts of welcome to a large number of 
natives collected at the vessel, and as gifts to children in order 
to gain the favour of their parents. I besides distributed a large 
quantity of silver coin with King Oscar's effigy, in order, if any 
misfortune overtook us, to afford a means of ascertaining the 
places we had visited. 

For the benefit of future travellers I may state that the wares 
most in demand are large sewing and darning needles, pots, 
knives (preferably large), axes, saws, boring tools and other iron 
tools, linen and woollen shirts (preferably of bright colours, but 
also white), neckerchiefs, tobacco and sugar. To these may be 
added the spirits which are in so great request among all savages ; 
a currency of which, indeed, there was great abundance on the 
Vega, but which I considered myself prevented from making 
use of. In exchange for this it is possible to obtain, in short, 
an5rthing whatever from many of the natives, but by no means 
from all, for even here there are men who will not taste spirits, 
but with a gesture of disdain refuse the glass that is offered 
them. The Chukches are otherwise shrewd and calculating 
men of business, accustomed to study their own advantage. 
They have been brought up to this from childhood through the 
barter which they carry on between America and Siberia. 
Many a beaver-skin that comes to the market at Irbit belongs to 
an animal that has been caught in America, whose skin has passed 
from hand to hand among the wild men of America and Siberia, 
until it finally reaches the Russian merchant. For this barter a 
sort of market is held on an island in Behring's Straits. At 
the most remote markets in Polar America, a beaver-skin is 
said some years ago to have been occasionally exchanged for a 
leaf of tobacco.^ An exceedingly beautiful black fox-skin was 
offered to me by a Chukch for a pot. Unfortunately I had 
none that I could dispense with. Here, too, prices have risen. 
When the E-ussians first came to Kamchatka, they got eight 
sable-skins for a knife, and eighteen for an axe , and yet the 
Kamchadales laughed at the credulous foreigners who were 
so easily deceived. At Yakutsk, when the Russians first 
settled there, a j^ot was even sold for as many sable-skins as 
it could hold.^ 

1 C. von Dittmar, Bulletin hist.-philolog. de VAcad. de St. Petershourg, 
XIII. 1856, p. 130. 

2 Krascheniunikov, Hlstoire et Description du Kamfschafka, Amsterdam 
1770, II. p. 95. A. Erman, Eeise urn die Erde, D. 1, B. 2, p. 255. 




During the night before the 10th September, the surface 
of the sea was covered with a very thick sheet of newly-frozen 
ice, which was broken up again in the neighbourhood of the 
vessel by blocks of old ice drifting about. The j^acZ; itself 
appeared to have scattered a little. We therefore weighed 
anchor to continue our voyage. At first a dMour towards the 
west was necessary to get round a field of drift-ice. Here too, 
however, our way was barred by a belt of old ice, which was 
bound together so firmly by the ice that had been formed in the 
course of the night, that a couple of hours' work with axes and 
ice-hatchets was required to open a channel through it. On the 
other side of this belt of ice we came again into pretty open 


(Aftor a drawing by O. Nordqnist ) 

water, but the fog, instead, became so dense that we had again 
to lie-to at a ground-ice, lying farther out to the sea but more 
to the west than our former resting-place. On the night before 
the 11th there was a violent motion among the ice. Fortu- 
nately the air cleared in the morning, so that we could hold on 
our course among pretty open ice, until on the approach of night 
we were obliged as usual to lie-to at a ground-ice. 

The following day, the 12th September, when we had passed 
Irkaipij, or Cape North, a good way, we fell in with so close ice 
that there was no possibility of penetrating farther. We were 
therefore compelkd to return, and were able to make our way 




with great difficulty among the closely packed masses of drift 
ice. Here the vessel was anchored in the lee of a ground-ice, 
which had stranded near the northernmost spur of Irkaipij, 
until a strong tidal current began to carry large pieces of drift- 
ice past the vessel's anchorage. She was now removed and 
anchored anew in a little bay open to the north, which was 
formed by two rocky points jutting out from the mainland. 
Unfortunately we were detained here, waiting for a better state 
of the ice, until the 18th September. It was this involuntary 
delay which must be considered the main cause of our 

Irkaipij is the northernmost promontory in that part of Asia, 
which was seen by Cook in 1778. It was, therefore, called by 
him Cape North, a name which has since been adopted in most 


a. Seen from the side. b. From above. 

(After a drawing by O. Nordquist.) 

maps, although it is apt to lead to confusion from capes similarly 
named being found in most countries. It is also incorrect, 
because the cape does not form the northernmost promontory 
either of the whole of Siberia, or of any considerable portion of 
it. For the northernmost point of the mainland of Siberia is 
Cape Chelyuskin, the northernmost in the land east of the Lena 
Svjatoinos, the northernmost in the stretch of coast east of 
Chaun Bay, Cape Chelagskoj, and so on. Cape North ought, 
therefore, to be replaced by the original name Irkaipij, which is 
well known to all the natives between Chaun Bay and Behring's 

On the neck of land which connects Irkaipij with the main- 
land, there was at the time of our visit a village consisting of 
sixteen tents. We saw here also ruins, viz. the remains of a large 




number of old house-sites, which belonged to a race called Omldlon} 
who formerly inhabited these regions, and some centuries ago were 
driven by the Chukches, according to tradition, to some remote 
islands in the Polar Sea. At these old house-sites Dr. Almquist 
and Lieutenant Nordquist set on foot excavations in order to 
collect contributions to the ethnography of this traditional race. 
The houses appear to have been built, at least partly, of the 
bones of the whale, and half sunk in the earth. The refuse 


1. stone cliisel with bone handle, one-half the natural size. 2, 4. Knives of slate, one-third. 

3, 7. Sjiear-heads of slate, oue-tkird. 5. Spear-head of bone, one-third. 

6. Bone spoon, one-third. 

heaps in the neighbourhood contained bones of several species 
of the whale, amongr them the white whale, and of the seal, 
walrus, reindeer, bear, dog, fox, and various kinds of birds. 
Besides these remains of the produce of the chase, there were 
found implements of stone and bone, among which were stone 

^ Anhali signifies in Cliukeh dwellers on the cOcast, and is now used to 
denote the Chukches living on the coast. A similar word, Onkilon, was 
formerly used as the name of the Eskimo tribe that lived on the coast 
of the Polar Sea when the Chukch migration reached that point. 


axes, which, after lying 250 years in the earth, were still fixed 
to their handles of wood or bone. Even the thongs with which 
the axe had been bound fast to, or loedged into, the handle, were 
still remaining. The tusks of the walrus ^ had to the former 
inhabitants of the place, as to the Chukches of the present, 
yielded a material which in many cases may be used with 
greater advantage than flint for spear-heads, bird-arrows, fish- 
hooks, ice-axes, &c. Walrus tusks, more or less worked, accord- 
ingly were found in the excavations in great abundance. The 
bones of the whale had also been employed on a great scale, but 
we did not find any large pieces of mammoth tusks, an indication 
that the race was not in any intimate contact with the inhabi- 
tants of the regions to the westward, so rich in the remains of 
the mammoth.^ At many places the old Onkilon houses were 
used by the Chukches as stores for blubber; and at others, 
excavations had been made in the refuse heaps in search of 
walrus tusks. Our researches were regarded by the Chukches 
with mistrust. An old man who came, as it were by chance, 
from the interior of the country past the place where we worked, 
remained there a while, regarding our labours with apparent 
indifference, until he convinced himself that from simj^licity, or 
some other reason unintelligible to him, we avoided touching the 
blubber-stores, but instead rooted up in search of old fragments 
of bone or stone-flakes. 

Kemains of old dwellings were found even at the highest 
points among the stone mounds of Irkaipij, and here perhaps was 
the last asylum of the Onkilon race. At many places on the 
mountain slopes were seen large collections of bones, consisting 
partly of a large number (at one place up to fifty) of bears' 
skulls overgrown with lichens, laid in circles, with the nose 
inwards, partly of the skulls of the reindeer. Polar bear,^ and 
walrus, mixed together in a less regular circle, in the midst of 

^ The walrus now appears to be very rare in the sea north of Behring's 
Straits, but formerly it must have been found there in large numbers, and 
made that region a veritable paradise for every hunting tribe. While we 
during our long stay there saw only a few walruses, Cook, in 1778, saw an 
enormous number, and an interesting drawing of walruses is to be found 
in the account of his third voyage. A Voyaqe to the Pacific Ocean, etc., 
Vol. III. (by James King), London, 1784, p. 259, pi. 52. 

" The greatest number of mammoth tusks is obtained fi'om the stretches 
of land and the islands between the Chatanga and Chaun Bay. Here the 
walrus is wanting. The inhabitants of North Siberia therefore praise the 
wisdom of the Creator, who lets the walrus live in the regions where the 
mammoth is wanting, and has scattered mammoth ivory in the earthy layers 
of the coasts where the walrus does not occur (A. Erman, Re'ise um die 
Erde, Berlin, 1833—48, D. 1, B. 2, p. 264). 

•^ Among the bears' skulls brought home from this place Lieut. Nordquist 
found after his return home the skull of a sea-lion {Otar'ia SteUeri). It is, 
however, uncertain whether the animal was captured in the region, or 
whether the cranium was brought hither from Kamchatka. 


which reindeer horns were found set up. Along with the 
reindeer horns there was found the coronal bone of an elk with 
portions of the horns still attached. Beside the other bones lay 
innumerable temple-bones of the seal, for the most part fresh 
and not lichen-covered. Other seal bones were almost com- 
pletely absent, which shows that temple-bones were not remains 
of weathered seal skulls, but had been gathered to the place for 
one reason or another in recent times. No portions of human 
skeletons were found in the neighbourhood. These places are 
sacrificial places, which the one race has inherited from the 

Weangel gives the following account of the tribe which lived 
here in former times : — 

" As is well known the sea-coast at Anadyr Bay is inhabited 
by a race of men, who, by their bodily formation, dress, 
language, -differ manifestly from the Chukches, and call 
themselves Onkilon - seafolk. In the account of Captain 
Billing's journey through the country of the Chukches, 
he shows the near relationship the language of this coast 
tribe has to that of the Aleutians at Kadyak, who are of 
the same primitive stem as the Greenlanders. Tradition 
relates that upwards of two hundred years ago these Onkilon 
occupied the whole of the Chukch coast, from Cape Chelagskoj 
to Behring's Straits, and indeed we still find along the whole of 
this stretch remains of their earth huts, which must have been very 
unlike the present dwellings of the Chukches ; they have the 
form of small mounds, are half sunk in the ground and closed 
above with whale ribs, which are covered with a thick layer of 
earth. A violent quarrel between Kriichoj, the chief of these 
North-Asiatic Eskimo, and an crrim or chief of the reindeer 
Chukches, broke out into open feud. Krachoj drew the shorter 
straw, and found himself compelled to fly, and leave the country 
with his people ; since then the whole coast has been desolate 
and uninhabited. Of the emigration of these Onkilon, the 
inhabitants of the village Irkaipij, where Krachoj apjiears to 
liave lived, narrated the following story. He had killed a Chukch 
crrim, and was therefore eagerly pursued by the son of the 
murdered man, whose pursuit he for a considerable time escaped. 
Finally Krachoj believed that he had found a secure asylum 
on the rock at Irkaipij, where he fortified himself behind a sort 
of natural wall, which can still be seen. But the young Chukch 
crrim, driven by desire to avenge his father's death, finds means 
to make his way within the fortification and kills Krachoj's son. 
Although the blood-revenge was now probably comjalete according 
to the prevailing ideas, Krachoj must have feared a further 
pursuit by his unrelenting enemy, for during night he lowers 



himself with thongs from his lofty asylum, nearly overhanging 
the sea, enters a boat, which waits for him at the foot of the cliff, 
and, in order to lead his pursuers astray, steers first towards the 
east, but at nightfall turns to the west, reaches Schalaurov 
Island, and there fortifies himself in an earth hut, whose remains 
we (Wrangel's expedition) have still seen. Here he then collected 
all the members of his tribe, and fled with them in 15 " baydars " 
to the land whose mountains the Chukches assure themselves 
they can in clear sunshine see from Cape Yakan. During the 
following winter a Chukch related to Krachoj disappeared in 
addition with his family and reindeer, and it is supposed that he 
too betook himself to the land beyond the sea. With this 
another tradition agrees, which was communicated to us by the 
inhabitants of Kolyutschin Island. For an old man informed 
me ( Wrangel) that durmg his grandfather's lifetime a " baydar " 
with seven Chukches, among them a woman, had ventured too 
far out to sea. After they had long been driven hither and 
thither by the wind, they stranded on a country unknown to 
them, whose inhabitants struck the Chukches themselves as 
coarse and brutish. The shipwrecked men were all murdered. 
Only the woman was saved, was very well treated, and taken 
round the whole country, and shown to the natives as something 
rare and remarkable. So she came at last to the Kargauts, 
a race living on the American coast at Behring's Straits, whence 
she found means to escape to her own tribe. This woman told 
her countrymen much about her travels and adventures ; among 
other things she said that she had been in a great land which 
lay north of Kolyutschin Island, stretched far to the loest, and 
was probably connected with America. This land was inhabited 
by several races of men ; those living in the west resembled the 
Chukches in every respect, but those living in the east were so 
wild and brutish, that they scarcely deserved to be called men. 
The whole account, both of the woman herself and of the 
narrators of the tradition, is mixed up with so many improbable 
adventures, that it would scarcely be deserving of any attention 
were it not remarkable for its correspondence with the history 
of Krachoj."^ 

When Wrangel wrote that, he did not believe in the existence 
of the land which is to be found set out on his map in 177° E.L. 
and 71° N.L., and which, afterwards discovered by the English- 
man Kellet, according to the saying. Ulcus a non lucendo, 
obtained the name of Wrangel Land. Now we know that the 
land spoken of by tradition actually exists, and therefore there 
is much that even tells in favour of its extending as far as to 
the archipelago on the north coast of America. 

1 Wrangel's Reise, Th. 2, Berlin, 1839, p. 220. 


With this fresh light thrown upon it, the old Chukch woman's 
story onght to furnish a valuable hint for future exploratory 
voyages in the sea north of Behring's Straits, and an important 
contribution towards forming a judgment of the fate which 
lias befallen the American Jcannette expedition, of which, while 
this is being written, accounts are still wanting. ^ 

Between us and the inhabitants of the present Chukch villao'e 
at Irkaipij there soon arose very friendly relations. A somewhat 
stout, well-grown, tall and handsome man named Chepurin, we 
took at first to be chief He was therefore repeatedly entertained 
in the gunroom, on which occasions small gifts were given him 
to secure his friendship. Chepurin had clearly a weakness for 
gentility and grandeur, and could now, by means of the barter 
he carried on with us and the presents he received, gratify his 
love of show to a degree of which he probably had never 
before dreamed. When during the last days of our stay he paid 
a visit to the Vega he was clad in a red woollen shirt drawn over 
his "pesk," and from either ear hung a gilt watch-chain, to the 
lower end of which a perforated ten-ore piece was fastened. 
Already on our arrival he was better clothed than the others, his 
tent was larger and provided with two sleeping apartments, one 
for each of his wives. But notwithstanding all this we soon 
found that we had made a mistake, when, thinking that a society 
could not exist without government, we assigned to him so 
exalted a position. Here, as in all Chukch villages which we 
afterwards \dsited, absolute anarchy prevailed. 

At the same time the greatest unanimity reigned in the little 
headless community. Children, healthy and thriving, tenderly 
cared for by the inhabitants, were found in large numbers. A 
good word to them was suflScient to pave the way for a friendly 
reception in the tent. The women were treated as the equals of 
the men, and the wife was always consulted by the husband when a 
more important bargain than usual was to be made; many times 
it was carried through only after the giver of advice had been 
bribed with a neckerchief or a variegated handkerchief The 
articles which the man purchased were immediately committed to 
the wife's keeping. One of the children had round his neck a band 
of pearls with a Chinese coin having a square hole in the middle, 

^ According to a paper in Deutsche Geografische Blatter, B. IV. p. 54, 
Captain E. Dallniann, in 1866, as commander of the Havai schooner W. C. 
Talbot, not only saw but landed on Wrangel Laud. As Captain Dallmann 
of recent years has been in pretty close contact with a large number of 
geographers, and communications from him have been previously inserted 
in geographical journals, it appears strange that he has now for the first 
time made public this important voyage. At all events, Dallmann's 
statement that the musk-ox occurs on tlie coast of the Polar Sea and on 
Wrangel Laud is erroneous. He has here confused the musk-ox with 
the reindeer. 

z 2 


suspended from it ; another bore a perforated American cent piece. 
None knew a word of Russian, but here too a youngster could count 
ten in English. They also knew the word " ship." In all the tents, 
reindeer stomachs were seen with their contents, or sacks stuffed 
full of other green herbs. Several times we were offered in 
return for the bits of sugar and pieces of tobacco which we dis- 
tributed, wrinkled root-bulbs somewhat larger than a hazel nut, 
which had an exceedingly pleasant taste, resembling that of fresh 
nuts. A seal caught in a net among the ice during our visit was 
cut up in the tent by the women. On this occasion they were 
surrounded by a large number of children, who were now and 
then treated to bloody strips of flesh. The youngsters carried 
on the work of cutting up co7i amove, coquetting a little with 
their bloody arms and faces. 

The rock which prevails in this region consists mainly of gabbro, 
which in the interior forms several isolated, black, plateau-formed 
hills, 100 to 150 metres high, between which an even, grassy, 
but treeless plain extends. It probably rests on sedimentary 
strata. For on the western side of Irkaipij the plutonic rock is 
seen to rest on a black slate with traces of fossils, for the most 
part obscure vegetable impressions, probably belonging to the 
Permian Carboniferous formation. 

Uneasy at the protracted delay here I made an excursion to 
a hill in the neighbourhood of our anchorage, which, according 
to a barometrical measurement, was 129 metres high, in order, 
from a considerable height, to get a better view of the ice than 
was possible by a boat reconnaisance. The hill was called by 
the Chukches Hammong-Ommang. From it we had an exten- 
sive view of the sea. It was everywhere covered with closely 
packed drift-ice. Oidy next the land was seen an open channel, 
which, however, was interrupted in an ominous way by belts of ice. 

The plutonic rock, of which the hill was formed, was almost 
everywhere broken up by the action of the frost into angular 
blocks of stone, so that its surface was converted into an enor- 
mous stone mound. The stones were on the wind side covered 
with a translucent glassy ice-crust, which readily fell away, 
and added considerably to the difficulty of the ascent. I had 
previously observed the formation of such an ice-crust on the 
northernmost mountain summits of Spitzbergen.'- It arises 
undoubtedly from the fall of super-cooled mist, that is to say of 
mist whose vesicles have been cooled considerably below the 
freezing-point without being changed to ice, which first takes 
place when, after falling, they come in contact with ice or snow, or 
some angular hard object. It is such a mist that causes the icing 
down of the rigging of vessels, a very unpleasant phenomenon 

^ Cf. Redogorelse for den svensha polarexjnditionen ar 1S72-73 (Bihang 
till Vet. Ak. handl. Bd. 2, No. 18, p. 91). 




lor the navigator, which we experienced during the following 
days, when the tackling of the Vcya was covered with pieces of 
ice so large, and layers so thick, that accidents might have 
happened by the falling of the ice on the deck.^ 


Laminaria soUdungula (J. G. Ag.), 

The dredgings here yielded to Dr. Kjellman some algse, and 
to Dr. Stuxberg masses of a species of cumacea, Diastylis 

^ A more dangerous kind of icing down threatens the navigator in severe 
weatlier not only in the Polar Seas but also in the Baltic and the North Sea. 
For it happens at that season that the sea-water at the surface is over- 
cooled, that is, cooled below the freezing-point without being frozen. 
Every wave which strikes the vessel is then converted by the concussion 
into ice-sludge, which increases and freezes together to hard ice so speedily 
that all attempts to remove it from the deck are in vain. In a few hours 
the vessel may be changed into an unmanageable floating block of ice 
Avhich the sailors, exhausted by hard labour, must in despair abandon to its 
fate. Such an icing down, tliough witli a fortunate issue, befell the steamer 
Sofia in the month of October off Bear Island, during the Swedish Polar 
Expedition pf I808. 




Bathkei Kr., of Acanthostephia Malmgreni Goes, and Liparis 
gelatinosus Pallas, but little else. On the steep slopes of the 
north side of Irkaipij a species of cormorant had settled in so 
large numbers that the cliff there might be called a true fowl- 
fell. A large number of seals were visible among the ice, and 
along with the cormorant a few other birds, principally phala- 
ropes. Fish were now seen only in exceedingly small numbers. 
Even in the summer, fishing here does not appear to be specially 
abundant, to judge from the fact that the Chukches had not 
collected any stock for the winter. We were offered, however, 
a salmon or two of small size. 


Gmculus hicristatus (Pallas). 

On the 18th September '^ the state of the ice was quite 
unchanged. If a wintering was to be avoided, it was, however, 

^ Irkaipij lies in 180° long, from Greenwich. To bring our day-reckoning 
into agreement with that ot the New World, we ought tlius to have here 
lessened our date by one day, and have written the 17th for the 18th 
September. But as, with the exception of the short excursion to Port 
Clarence and St. Edward Island, we always followed the coasts of the Old 
World, and during our stay in the new hemisphere did not visit any place 
inliabited by Europeans, we retained during the whole of our voyage our 
European day-reckoning unaltered. If we had met with an American 
wlialer, we would have been before him one day, our 27th September would 
tlnis have corresponded to his 26th. The same would have been the case 
oa our coming to an American port. 


not advisable to remain longer here. It had besides appeared 
from the hill-top which I visited the day before that an open 
water channel, only interrupted at two places by ice, was still to 
be found along the coast. The anchor accordingly was weighed, 
and the Vega steamed on, but in a depth of only 6 to 8 metres. 
As the Vegas draught is from 4'8 to 5 metres, we had only a 
little water under the keel, and that among ice in quite unknown 
Avaters. About twenty kilometres from the anchorage, we met 
with a belt of ice through which we could make our way though 
only with great difficulty, thanks to the Vega's strong bow ena- 
bling her to withstand the violent concussions. Our voyage was 
then continued, often in yet shallower water than before, until 
the vessel, at 8 o'clock in the morning, struck on a ground 
ice foot. The tide was falling, and on that account it was not 
until next morning that we could get off, after a considerable 
portion of the ground-ice, on whose foot the Vega had run up, 
had been hewoi away with axes and ice-hatchets. Some attempts 
were made to blast the ice with gunpowder, but they were un- 
successful. For this purpose dynamite is much more efficacious, 
and this explosive ought therefore always to fonn part of the 
equipment in voyages in which belts of ice have to be broken 

On the 19th we continued our voyage in the same way as 
before, in still and for the most part shallow water near the 
coast, between high masses of ground-ice, which frequently had 
the most picturesque forms. Later in the day we again fell in 
with very low ice formed in rivers and shut-in inlets of the sea, 
and came into slightly salt water having a temperature above 
the freezing-point. 

After having been moored during the night to a large ground- 
ice, the Vega continued her course on the 20th September 
almost exclusively among low, dirty ice, which had not been 
much pressed together during the preceding winter. This ice 
was not so deep in the water as the blue ground-ice, and could 
therefore drift nearer the coast, a great inconvenience for our 
vessel, which drew so much water. We soon came to a place 
where the ice was packed so close to land that an open channel 
only Sj to 4^ metres deep remained close to the shore. We 
were therefore compelled after some hours' sailing to lie-to at a 
ground-ice to await more favourable circumstances. The wind 
had now gone from west to north and north-west. Notwith- 
standing this the temperature became milder and the weather 
rainy, a sign that great open stretches of water lay to the north 
and north-west of us. During the night before the 21st it 
rained heavily, the wind being N.N.W. and the temperature + 
2". An attempt was made on that day to find some place where 
the belt of drift-ice that was pressed against the land could be 


broken through, but it was unsuccessful, probably in consequence 
of the exceedingly dense fog which prevailed. 

Dredging gave but a scanty yield here, probably because the 
animal life in water so shallow as that in which we were 
anchored, is destroyed by the ground-ices, which drift about 
here for the greater part of the year. Excursions to the neigh- 
bouring coast on the other hand, notwithstanding the late season 
of the year, afforded to the botanists of the Vega valuable in- 
formation regarding the flora of the region. 

On the 22nd I made, along with Captain Palander, an excursion 
in the steam launch to take soundings farther to the east. We 
soon succeeded in discovering a channel of sufficient depth and 
not too much blocked with ice, and on the 23rd the Vega was 


(After a drawing by O. Nordquist.) 

able to resume her voyage among very closely packed drift-ice, 
often so near the land that she had only a fourth of a metre of 
water under her keel. We went forward however, if slowly ._ 

The land here formed a grassy plain, still clear of snow, rising 
inland to gently sloping hills or earthy heights. The beach 
was strewn with a not inconsiderable quantity of driftwood, and 
here and there were seen the remains of old dwelling-places. 
On the evening of the 23rd September we lay-to at a ground-ice 
in a pretty large opening of the ice-field. This opening closed 
in the course of the night, so that on the 24th and 25th we 
could make only very little progress, but on the 26th we 
continued our course, at first with difficulty, but afterwards 


ill pretty open water to the headland which on the maps is 
called Cape Oiiman. The natives too, who came on board here, 
gave the place that name. The ice we met with on that day 
was heavier than before, and bluish-white, not dirty. It was 
accordingly formed farther out at sea. 

On the 27th we continued our course in somewhat open water 
to Kolyutschin Bay. No large river debouches in the bottom 
of this great fjord, the only one on the north coast of Asia which, 
by its long narrow form, the configuration of the neighbouring 
shores, and its division into two at the bottom, reminds us of the 
Spitzbergen fjords which have been excavated by glaciers. The 
mouth of the bay was filled with very closely packed drift-ice 
that had gathered round the island situated there, which was 
inhabited by a large number of Chukch families. In order to 
avoid this ice the Vega made a considerable detour up the fjord. 
The weather was calm and fine, but new ice was formed every- 
where among the old drift-ice where it was closely packed. 
Small seals swarmed by hundreds among the ice, following the 
wake of the vessel with curiosity. Birds on the contrary were 
seen in limited numbers. Most of them had evidently already 
migrated to more southerly seas. At 4.45 p.m. the vessel was 
anchored to an ice-floe near the eastern shore of the fjord. It 
could be seen from this point that the ice at the headland, which 
bounded the mouth of the fjord to the east, lay so near land 
that there was a risk that the open water next the shore would 
not be deep enough for the Vega. 

Lieutenant Hovgaard was therefore sent with the steam 
launch to take soundings. He returned with the report that 
tlie water off the headland was sufficiently deep. At the same 
time, accompanied by several of the naturalists, I made an 
excursion on land. In the course of this excursion the hunter 
Johnsen was sent to the top of the range of heights which 
occupied the interior of the promontory, in order to get a view 
of the state of the ice farther to the east. Johnsen too returned 
with the very comforting news that a very broad open channel 
extended beyond the headland along the coast to the south-east. 
I was wandering about along with my comrades on the slopes 
near the beach in order, so far as the falling darkness permitted, 
to examine its natural conditions, when Johnsen came down ; 
he informed us that from the top of the height one could hear 
bustle and noise and see fires at an encampment on the other 
side of the headland. He supposed that the natives were 
celebrating some festival. I had a strong inclination to go 
thither in order, as I thought, "to take farewell of the Chukches," 
for I was quite certain that on some of the following days we 
should sail into the Pacific. But it was already late in the 
evening and dark, and we were not yet sufficiently acquainted 


with the disposition of the Chukches to go by night, without 
any serious occasion, in small numbers and provided only with 
the weapons of the chase, to an encampment with which we 
were not acquainted. It was not until afterwards that we 
learned that such a visit was not attended with any danger. 
Instead of going to the encampment, as the vessel in any case 
could not weigh anchor this evening, we remained some hours 
longer on the beach and lighted there an immense log fire of 
drift-wood, round which we were soon all collected, chatting 
merrily about the remaining part of the voyage in seas where 
not cold but heat would trouble us, and where our progress at 
least would not be obstructed by ice, continual fog, and unknown 
shallows. None of us then had any idea that, instead of the 
heat of the tropics, we would for the next ten months be 
experiencing a winter at the pole -of cold, frozen in on an 
unprotected road, under almost continual snow-storms, and 
with a temperature which often sank below the freezing-point 
of mercury. 

The evening was glorious, the sky clear, and the air so calm 
that the flames and smoke of the log fire rose high against the 
sky. The dark surface of the water, covered as it was with a 
thin film of ice, reflected its light as a fire-way straight as a line, 
bounded far away at the horizon by a belt of ice, whose in- 
equalities appeared in the darkness as the summits of a distant 
high mountain chain. The temperature in the quite draught- 
free air was felt to be mild, and the thermometer showed only 
2° under the freezing-point. This slight degree of cold was 
however sufficient to cover the sea in the course of the night 
with a sheet of newly-frozen ice, which, as the following days' 
experience showed, at the opener places could indeed only delay, 
not obstruct the advance of the Vega, but which however bound 
together the fields of drift-ice collected off the coast so firmly 
that a vessel, even with the help of steam, could with difficulty 
force her way through. 

When on the following day, the 28th September, we had 
sailed past the headland which bounds Kolyutschin Bay on the 
east, the channel next the coast, clear of drift-ice, but covered 
with newly formed ice, became suddenly shallow. The depth 
was too small for the Vega, for which we had now to seek a 
course among the blocks of ground-ice and fields of drift-ice in 
the offing. The night's frost had bound these so firmly together 
that the attempt failed. We were thus compelled to lie-to at a 
ground-ice so much the more certain of getting off with the 
first shift of the wind, and of being able to traverse the few 
miles that separated-us from the open water at Behring's Straits, 
as whalers on several occasions had not left this region until the 
ndddle of October. 


As American whalers had during the last decades extended 
their whale-fishing to the North Behring Sea, I applied before 
my departure from home both directly and through the Foreign 
Office to several American scientific men and authorities with a 
request for information as to the state of the ice in that sea. In 
all quarters my request was received with special good-will and 
best wishes for the projected journey. I thus obtained both a 
large quantity of printed matter otherwise difficult of access, and 
maps of the sea between North America and North Asia, and 
oral and written communications from several persons : among 
whom may be mentioned the distinguished naturalist. Prof. 
W. H. Dall of Washington, who lived for a long time in the 
Territory of Alaska and the north part of the Pacific ; Admiral 
John Eodgers, who was commander of the American man-of-war, 
Vinccnncs, when cruising north of Behring's Straits in 1855 ; and 
Washburn Maynod, lieutenant in the American Navy. I had 
besides obtained important information from the German sea- 
captain E. Dallmann, who for several years commanded a 
vessel in these waters for coast traffic with the natives. Space 
does not permit me to insert all these writings here. But to 
show that there were good grounds for not considering the season 
of navigation in the sea between Kolyutschin Bay and Behring's 
Straits closed at the end of September, I shall make some 
extracts from a letter sent to me, through the American Consul- 
General in Stockholm, N. A, Elving, from Mr. Miller, the 
president of the Alaska Commercial Company. 

" The following is an epitome of the information we have 
received regarding the subject of your inquiry. 

" The bark Massachusetts, Captain 0. WiLLlAMS, was in 74° 
30' N.L. and 173' W.L. on the 21st Sept. 1867. No ice in 
sight in the north, but to the east saw ice. Saw high peaks 
bearing W.N.W. about 60'. Captain Williams is of opinion that 
Plover Island, so-called by Kellet, is a headland of Wrangel 
Land. Captain Williams says that he is of opinion from his 
observations, that usually after tlie middle of August there is 
no ice south of 70° — west of 175°, until the 1st of October. 
There is hardly a year but that you could go as far as Cape 
North (Irkaipij), which is 180°, during the month of September. 
If the winds through July and August have prevailed from the 
S.W., as is usual, the north shore will be found clear of ice. 
The season of 1877 was regarded as an ' icy season,' a good deal 
of ice to southward. 1876 was an open season; as was 1875. 
Our captain, Gustav Niebaum, states that the east side of 
Behring's Straits is open till November ; he passed through 
the Straits as late as October 22nd two different seasons. The 
north shore was clear of all danger within reasonable distance. 

348 THE VOYAGE OF THE VEGA. [chap, ix., 

In 1869 the bark Navy anchored under Kolyutschin Island from 
the 8th to the 10th October. On the 10th October of that year 
there was no ice south and east of Wrangel Land." 

These accounts show that I indeed might have reason to be 
uneasy at my ill luck in again losing some days at a place at 
whose bare coast, exposed to the winds of the Polar Sea, there 
was little of scientific interest to employ ourselves with, little at 
least in comparison with what one could do in a few days, for 
instance, at the islands in Behring's Straits or in St. Lawrence 
Bay, lying as it does south of the easternmost promontory of 
Asia and therefore sheltered from the winds of the Arctic Ocean, 
but that there were no grounds for fearing that it would be 
necessary to winter there. I also thought that I could come to 
the same conclusion from the experience gained in my wintering 
on Spitzbergen in 1872-73, when permanent ice was first formed 
in our haven, in the 80th degree of latitude, during the month of 
February. Now, however, the case was quite different. The 
fragile ice-sheet, which on the 28th September bound together 
the ground-ices and hindered our progress, increased daily in 
strength under the influence of severer and severer cold until it 
was melted by the summer heat of the following year. Long 
after we were beset, however, there was still open water on the 
coast four or five kilometres from our winter haven, and after our 
return home I was informed that, on the day on which we 
were frozen in, an American whaler was anchored at that 

Whether our sailing along the north coast of Asia to Kolyut- 
schin Bay was a fortunate accident or not, the future will show. 
I for my part believe that it was a fortunate accident, which will 
often happen. Certain it is, in any case, that when we had come 
so far as to this point, our being frozen in was a quite accidental 
misfortune brought about by an unusual state of the ice in the 
autumn of 1878 in the North Behring Sea. 



"Wintering becomes necessary — The position of the Vega — The ice round, 
the vessel — American ship in the neighbourhood of the Vega when 
frozen in — The nature of the neighbouring country — The Vega is prepared 
for wintering — Provision-depot and observatories established on land 
— Tlie winter dress — Temperature on board — Health and dietary — Cold, 
wind, and snow — The Chukches on board — Menka's visit — Letters sent 
home — Nordquist and Hovgaard's excursion to Menka's encampment — 
Another visit of Menka — -The fate of the letters — Nordquist's journey 
to Pidlin — Find of a Chukch grave — Hunting — Scientific work — Life 
on board — Christmas Eve. 

Assured that a few hours' southerly wind would be sufficient 
to break up the belt of ice, scarcely a Swedish mile ^ in breadth, 
that barred our way, and rendered confident by the above- 
quoted communications from experts in America concerning the 
state of the ice in the sea north of Behring's Straits, I was not 
at first very uneasy at the delay, of which we took advantage 
by making short excursions on land and holding converse with 
the inhabitants. First, when day after day passed without any 
change taking place, it became clear to me that we must make 
preparations for wintering just on the threshold between the 
Arctic and the Pacific Oceans. It was an unexj)ected dis- 
appointment, which it was more difficult to bear with equanimity, 
as it was evident that we would have avoided it if we had come 
some hours earlier to the eastern side of Kolyutschin Bay. 
There were numerous occasions during the preceding part of our 
voyage on which these hours might have been saved : the Vega 
did not require to stay so long at Port Dickson, we might have 
saved a day at Taimur Island, have dredged somewhat less west 
of the New Siberian Islands, and so on ; and above all, our long 
stay at Irkaipij waiting for an improvement in the state of the 
ice, was fatal, because at least three days were lost there without 
any change for the better taking place. 

The position of the vessel was by no means very secure. For 
the Ver/a, when frozen in, as apj)ears from the sketch map to be 
found further on, did not lie at anchor in any haven, but was 
only, in the expectation of finding a favourable opportunity to 
steam on, anchored behind a ground-ice, which had stranded 
in a depth of 9^ metres, 1,400 metres from land, in a road 
which was quite open from true N, 74° W. by north to east. 
The vessel had here no other protection against the violent ice- 
|)ressure which winter storms are wont to cause in the Polar 
seas, than a rock of ice stranded at high water, and therefore 
also at high water not very securely fixed. Fortunately the tide 

^ Equal to 6 -64 English miles. 




just on the occasion of our being frozen in, appears to have been 
higher than at any other time during the course of the winter. 
The ice-rocks, therefore, first floated again far into the summer 
of 1879, when their parts that projected above the water had 
diminished by melting. Little was wanting besides to make 
our winter haven still worse than it was in reality. For the 
Vega was anchored the first time on the 28th September at 
some small ice-blocks which had stranded 200 metres nearer the 
land, but was removed the following day from that place, because 
there were only a few inches of water under her keel. Had the 
vessel remained at her first anchorage, it had gone ill with us. 


From the neighbourhood of the Vega's winter quarters. 

For the newly formed ice, during the furious autumn storms, 
especially during the night between the 14th and 15th 
December, was pressed over these ice-blocks. The sheet of ice, 
about half a metre thick, was thereby broken up with loud noise 
into thousands of pieces, which were thrown up on the under- 
lying ground-ices so as to form an enormous toross, or rampart of 
loose, angular blocks of ice. A vessel anchored there would 
have been buried under pieces of ice, pressed aground, and 
crushed very early in the winter. 

When the Vega was beset, the sea near the coast, as has been 


already stated, was covered with newly formed ice, too thin to 
carry a foot passenger, but thick enough to prevent the passage 
of a boat. In the offing lay, as far as the eye could see, closely 
packed drift-ice, which was bound together so firmly by the 
newly formed ice, that it was vain to endeavovir to force a 
passage. Already, by the 2nd October, it was possible, by 
observing the necessary precautions, to walk upon the newly 
formed ice nearest the vessel, and on the 3rcl October, the 
Chukches came on board on foot. On the 10th there were 
still weak places here and there between the vessel and the 
land, and a blue sky to the eastward indicated that there was 
still open water in that direction. That this " clearing " was at a 
considerable distance from the vessel was seen from an excursion 
which Dr. Almquist undertook in a north-easterly direction on 
the 13th October, when, after walking about twenty kilometres 
over closely packed drift-ice, he was compelled to turn without 
having reached the open water. It was clear that the Vega was 
surrounded by a band, at least thirty kilometres broad, of drift- 
ice fields, united by newly formed ice, which in the course of 
the winter reached a considerable thickness.' 

In this immense ice-sheet there often arose in the course of 
the -winter cracks of great length. They ran uninterruptedly 
across newly formed ice-fields, and old, high ground-ices. One 
of the largest of these cracks was formed on the night before 
the 15th December right under the bow of the vessel. It was 
nearly a metre broad, and very long. Commonly the cracks were 
only some centimetres broad, but, notwithstanding this, they 
were troublesome enough, because the sea-water forced itself 
up through them to the surface of the ice and drenched the 
snow lying next to it. 

The causes of the formation of the cracks were twofold. 
Either they arose from a violent wind disturbing somewhat the 
position of the newly formed ice, or through the contraction of 
the ice in severe cold. The formation of the cracks took place 
with a more or less loud report, and, to judge from the number of 
these reports, more frequently than could be observed from the 

^ When it had become evident tliat we could make no further advance 
before next year, Lieut. Brusewitz occasionally measured the thickness of 
the newly formed ice, with the following results : — 



1 December, 56 centimetres. 

1 May, 154 


1 January, 92 

15 „ 162 

1 February, 108 

r 1 June, 154 

15 „ ' 120 

15 „ 151 

1 March, 123 

1 July, 104 

1 April, 128 

15 „' 67 

,',' (full of lioles). 

15 „ 139 

18 „ The ice 

broke up. 


appearance of the snow-covered ice. Thus even during severe cold 
the apparently continuous ice-sheet was divided into innumerable 
pieces lying in the close proximity of each other, which either 
were completely loose or bound together only by the weak ice- 
band which was gradually formed under the snow on the surface 
of the water which had forced its way into the crack. Up to 
a distance of about six kilometres from the shore the ice in any 
case lay during the course of the whole winter nearly undis- 
turbed, with the exception of the small cracks just mentioned. 
Farther out to sea, on the other hand, it was in constant motion. 
So-called polynias or open places probably occur here all the year 
round, and when the weather was favourable we could therefore 
nearly always see a blue water sky at the horizon from true N.W. to 
E. A southerly wind after some days brought the open water 
channel so near the vessel that it was possible to walk to it in a 
few hours. It then swarmed with seals — an indication that it was 
in connection with a sea that was constantly open. The neighbour- 
hood of such a sea perhaps also accounts for the circumstance 
that we did not see a single seal-hole in the ice-fields that 
surrounded the vessel. 

The ground-ice, to which the Vega was moored on the 29th 
September, and under which she lay during the course of the 
winter, was about forty metres long and twenty-five metres 
broad ; its highest point lay six metres above the surface of the 
water. It was thus not very large, but gave the vessel good 
shelter. This ground-ice, along with the vessel and the newly 
formed ice-field lying between it and the shore, was indeed 
moved considerably nearer land during the violent autumn 
storms. A groan or two and a knocking sound in the hull of 
the vessel indicated that it did not escape very severe pressure ; 
but the Vega did not during the course of the winter suffer any 
damage, either from this or from the severe cold, during which 
sharp reports often indicated that some crack in the wood- 
work had widened throufjh the freezino- of the water that had 
made its way into the vessel. " Cold so that the walls crack " 
is a well-known expression, with which we inhabitants of the 
North often connect memories from some stormy winter even- 
ing, passed by the home hearth ; but here these reports heard in 
our cabins, especially at night, were unpleasant enough, giving 
rise to fears that the newly formed or widened cracks would 
cause dangerous leaks in the vessel's hull. In consequence of 
iron contracting more than wood under the influence of cold, 
the heads of the iron bolts, with which the ship's timbers 
were fastened together, in the course of the winter sank deep 
into the outside j)lanking. But no serious leak arose in this 
way, perhaps because the cold only acted on that part of the 
vessel which lay above the surface of the water. 



Already during the first days of our wintering we interpreted 
various lively accounts of the natives, Avhich they illustrated by 
signs, to mean that a whaler would be found at Serdze Kamen, 
in the neighbourhood of the Vegas winter haven. On this 
account Lieutenant Brusewitz was sent out on the 4th October 
with two men and the little boat, Louise, built in Copenhagen 
for the expedition of 1872-73, and intended for sledge-journeys, 
with instructions to ascertain, if possible, if such was the case. 
He returned late at night the same day without having got 
sight of any vessel. We now supposed that the whole depended 
on our having misunderstood the accounts of the Chukches. 
But a letter which I received after our return, from Mr. W. 
Bartlett, dated New Bedford, 6th January, 1880, shows that 
this had not been the case. For he writes, among other 
things : — 

" The writer's son, Gideon W. Bartlett, left San Francisco 
1st June, 1878, in our freighter ship Syren, of 875 tons, for 
St. Lawrence Bay, arriving there July 8th, and, after loading 
6,100 barrels of oil and 37,000 lbs. of bone from our whalers, 
she sailed for New Bedford direct, touching at Honolulu to 
land her bone, to come here via San Francisco, and he joined 
our whaler bark, JRaiiiboiv, at St.- Lawrence Bay, and went on 
a tour of observation and pleasure, visiting Point Barrow and 
going as far east as Lion Reefs, near Camden Bay, and then 
returning to Point Barrow, and going over to Herald Island, 
and while there visiting our different whalers, seeing one " bow- 
head " caught and cut in, and September 25th he came down 
in the schooner W. M. Meyer to San Francisco, arriving there 
October 22nd. By a comparison of dates we find he passed 
near Cape Serdze September 29th, or one day after you anchored 
near Kolyutschin Bay." 

The 29th September according to the American day-reckoning 
corresponds to the 30th according to that of the old world, which 
was still followed on board the Vega. The schooner W. M. 
Meyer thus lay at Serdze Kamen two days after we anchored in 
our winter haven. The distance between the two places is only 
about 70 kilometres. 

The winter haven was situated in 67° 4' 49" north latitude, 
and 173° 23' 2" longitude west from Greenwich, 1*4 kilo- 
metres from land. The distance from East Cape was 120', 
and from Point Hope near Cape Lisburn on the American 
side, 180'. 

The neighbouring land formed a plain rising gradually from 
the sea, slightly undulating and crossed by river valleys, which 
indeed when the Vega was frozen in was covered with hoarfrost 

A A 

354 THE VOYAGE OF THE VEGA. [chap. x. 

and frozen, but still clear of snow, so that our botanists could 
form an idea of the flora of the region, previously quite unknown. 
Next the shore were found close beds of Elymus, alternating 
with carpets of Halianthus peploidcs, and further up a poor, even, 
gravelly soil, covered with water in spring, on which grew only 
a slate-like lichen, Gyrophora prohoscidea, and a few flowering 
plants, of which Armeria sihirica was the most common. 
Within the beach were extensive salt and fresh-Avater lagoons, 
separated by low land, whose banks were covered with a pretty 
luxuriant carpet, formed of mosses, grasses, and Carices, But 
first on the neighbouring high land, where the weathered gneiss 
strata yielded a more fertile soil than the sterile sand thrown 
up out of the sea, did the vegetation assume a more variegated 
stamp. No trace of trees ^ was indeed found there, but low 
willow bushes, extensive carpets of Emptetruin nigrum and 
Andromeda tctragona were seen, along with large tufts of a 
species of Artemisia. Between these shoot forth in summer, to 
judge partly from the dried and frozen remains of plants which 
Dr. Kjellman collected in autumn, partly from collections made 
in spring, a limited number of flowering plants, some of which 
are well known at home, as the red whortleberry, the cloud- 
berry, and the dandelion. 

Although experience from preceding Polar journeys and 
specially from the Swedish expedition of 1872-73, showed that 
even at the 80th degree of latitude the sea may suddenly break 
up in the middle of winter, we however soon found, as has 
been already stated, that we must make preparations for 
wintering. The necessary arrangements were accordingly made. 
The snow which collected on deck, and which at first was daily 
swept away, was allowed to remain, so that it finally formed a 
layer 30 centimetres thick, of hard tramped snow or ice, which 
in no inconsiderable degree contributed to increase the resistance 
of the deck to cold, and for the same purpose snowdrifts were 
thrown up along the vessel's sides. A stately ice stair was 
carried up from the ice to the starboard gunwale. A large tent 
made for the purpose at Karlskrona was pitched from the bridge 
to the fore, so that only the poop was open. Aft the tent was 
quite open, the blast and drifting snow having also free entrance 
from the sides and from an incompletely closed opening in the 
fore. The protection it yielded against the cold was indeed 
greatly diminished in this way, but instead it did not have the 
least injurious action on the air on the vessel, a circumstance 
specially deserving of attention for its influence on the state of 
health on board. Often under this tent in the dark days of 
winter there blazed a brisk smithy fire, round which the 

^ Low brush is probably to be met with in the interior of the Chukch 
peninsula at places which are protected from the cold north winds. 





lllijlllllii lili;:' 







A A 2 


Chukclies crowded in curious wonder at the skill with which 
the smith fashioned the glowing iron. Here the cook dealt out 
to the Chukclies the soup and meat that were left over, and the 
loaves of bread which at every baking were baked for them. 
Here was our reception saloon, where tobacco and sugar were 
distributed to the women and children, and where sometimes, if 
seldom, a frozen hunter or fisherman was treated to a little 
spirits. Here pieces of wood and vertebrae of the whale were 
valued and purchased, and here tedious negotiations were 
carried on regarding journeys in dog-sledges in different 

The violent motion which took place in the ice during the 
night before the 15th December, gave us a sharp warning that 
our position in the open road was by no means so secure as was 
desirable, but that there was a possibility that the vessel might 
be nipped suddenly and without any previous warning. If such 
a misfortune had happened, the crew of the Vega would certainly 
have had no difficulty in getting to land over the ice. But the 
yield of hunting appeared to be so scanty, and the Chukches 
were, as almost always, so destitute of all stock of provisions — 
for they literally obey the command to take no thought for to- 
morrow — that there was every probability that we, having come 
safe ashore, would die of hunger, if no provisions were saved from 
the vessel. This again, as the principal part of the provisions 
was of course down in the hold, would have been attended with 
great difficulty, if the Vega had been suddenly in the night cut 
into by the ice at the water-line. In order as far as possible to 
secure ourselves against the consequences of such a misfortune, 
a depot of provisions, guns, ammunition, &c., reckoned for 30 
men and 100 days, was formed on land. Fortunately we did not 
require to depend vipon it. The stores were laid up on the 
beach without the protection of lock or bolt, covered only with 
sails and oars, and no watch was kept at the place. Notwith- 
standing this, and the want of food wliich occasionally prevailed 
among the natives, it remained untouched both by the Chukches 
who lived in the neighbourhood, and by those who daily drove 
past the place from distant regions. All however knew very well 
the contents of the sail-covered heap, and they undoubtedly 
supposed that there were to be found there treasures of immense 
value, and provisions enough for the whole population of the 
Chukch peninsula for a whole year. 

The Magnetical Observatory was erected, as will be told in 
greater detail further on, upon the beach a kilometre and a 
half from the vessel. To this house the observers had to walk 
to and fro at least four times in the twenty-four hours over an 
ice-field, covered with loose snow, as fine as dust, that was set in 


motion by the least puff of wind, and then in a few moments 
completely obliterated every footprint. When the moon did not 
shine, the winter nights were so dark, that it was impossible to 
distinguish the very nearest objects, and day after day during the 
course of the winter we had, besides, drifting snow so thick that 
the hio^h dark hull of the vessel itself could be distinguished 

..... ^ 

only when one was in its immediate neighbourhood ! In walk- 
ing from land during the darkness of the night and in drifting 
snow it would have been very difficult to find one's way to the 
vessel without guidance, and he would have been helplessly lost 
who Avent astray. To prevent such an accident, the precaution 
was taken of running a line over high ice-pillars between the 
Observatory and the vessel. Even with the help of the guide- 
line it was often difficult enough to find our way. 

The attempt to keep open a channel in the ice round the 
vessel during the whole winter had soon to be given up, but two 
holes were kept constantly open, one by the side of the vessel in 
case of fire, and the other for the tidal observations which 
Captain Palander set on foot during the winter. The latter 
hole was chosen by a little seal as its haunt for a long time, 
until one day we entertained ourselves by catching him with 
the necessary care, and making him pay an involuntary visit on 
board, where he was offered various delicacies, which however 
were disresrarded. The seal was let loose ao^ain in his hole, but 
notwithstanding the friendliness we showed him, he never more 

From the meteorological observations it appears that the win- 
ter was not so cold as the winters in the Franklin archipelago 
or in the coldest parts of the mainland of Siberia.^ On the 
other hand, it was exceedingly stormy at the Vega's winter 
station, and day after day, night after night, we have gone to 
and from the Observatory in a high wind and a cold of — 30° 
to — 4G° C. In calm weather a cold of — 40° is scarcely very 
troublesome, but with only a slight draught a degree of cold of 
for instance —35° is actually dangerous for one who goes against 
the wind, and without the necessary precautions exposes unco- 
vered parts of the face, the hands, or the wrists, to the cold current 
of air. Without one's being warned by any severe pain frostbite 
arises, which, if it be not in time thawed by rubbing the injured 
part with the hand, or with melting snow, may readily become 
very serious. Most of those who for the first time took part 

^ According to H. Wild's newly-publislied large work, "Die Temperatur 
Verh>iltiiii<se des Ruttsischen Jieiches, 2e Halfte, St. Petersburg, 1881," the 
Old World's cold-[)ole lies in the neighbourhood of the town Werchojansk 
(67° 34' X.L. 133'"' 51' E.L. from Greenwich). The mean tenijjerature of the 
different months and of the whole year is given in the note at page 411. If 
the data on which these figures rest are correct, the winter at Werchojansk 
is immensely colder than at the Vegas winter station. 




in a wintering in the high nortli, were, when the lirst cold 
occurred, more or less frostbitten, on several occasions so that 
there arose high frost-blisters filled with bloody water, several 
square centimetres in extent, but fortunately never to such a 
degree that any serious bad results followed. After we, new- 


comers to the Polar regions, warned by experience, became more 
careful, such frostbites occurred but seldom. Nor did there 
occur a single case of frostbite in the feet. To this conduced 
our clothing, which was adapted to the climate, and, besides good 


"wiuter clothes of the sort commonly used in Sweden, consisted of 
the following articles of dress brought with us specially for use 
in the high north : — 

1. An abundant stock of good woollen under-clothing. 

2. A carefully made blouse of sailcloth, provided with many 
pockets, intended to be drawn over the ordinary seaman's dress 
as a protection against wind and drifting snow. This proved to 
be very suitable for the purpose for which it was intended, and 
was much liked by the crew. 

3. A Lapp "pcsk" with leggings was not so often used, because 
it was so warm that it was only with difficulty one could 
walk with it any considerable distance. On the other hand, in 
the case of winter journeys with dogs or reindeer it was 

4. A pair of very large ccmvas hoofs with leather soles. Inside 
these was put -hay of Carex msicaria L. The foot itself was covered 
with one or two pairs of stockings, above which there was a foot-strip 
of felt. Our boots w^ere thus intermediate between the foot-covering 
introduced by Parry for Ai'ctic journeys, and the hay-filled Iwmager 
of the Lapps. All who used these canvas boots are unanimous 
in thinking that they left nothing to desire. Even in the case 
of extended excursions in wet snow they are to be preferred to 
leather shoes ; for the latter become heavy and drenched with 
water, and can with difficulty be dried in the open air in the 
course of a night's rest. Canvas boots and the long hay in them 
on the other hand are easily dried in a single night. They are 
also light when wet, and in that state little prejudicial to health on 
account of the change of air which the hay under the foot renders 
possible. I therefore am of opinion that we are warranted in 
tjivinar such boots the highest recommendation for winter 
journeys and winter huntmg excursions, even m our own land. 

5. An Oresund ccqj and a loose felt hood (baschlik) of the same 
sort as those which are used in the Russian army. I had bought 
the baschliks in St. Petersburg on account of the Expedition. 

6. Fingerlcss gloves of sealskin and chamois, with an inside 
lining of sheepskin and at the wrists bordered with long-haired 
fur. They were commonly carried with a band from the neck, 
as children are wont to carry their gloves. For outside work 
these thick gloves were too inconvenient ; then fingerless 
woollen mittens were used. 

7. Colotired spectacles, which were distributed to all the men 
in the beginning of February. One must himself have lived in 
the Polar regions during wiuter and spring, " after the return of 
the sun," to understand how indispensable is such a protection 
from the monotonous white light which then surrounds the eye 
in every direction. The inexperienced, though warned, seldom 
observe the necessary precautions, and commonly pay the penalty 


by a more or less complete snowblindness, which indeed is not 
very dangerous, but is always exceedingly painful, and whicli 
lasts several days. 

On board the vessel in our cabins and collection-rooms it was 
besides by no means so cold as many would suppose. The sides 
of the vessel in several places indeed, especially in the cabins, 
were covered with a thick sheet of ice, and so was the skylight in 
the gun-room. But in the inhabited parts of the vessel we had, a 
little from the sides, commonly a temperature of + 12° to +17°, that 
is to say about the same as we in the north are wont to have in- 
doors in winter, and certainly higher than the temperature of rooms 
daring the coldest days of the year in many cities in the south, 
as for instance in Paris and Vienna. By night however the 
temperature in the cabins sank sometimes to + 5° and + 10°, and 
the boarding at the side of the berth became covered with ice. 
In the work-room 'tweendecks the thermometer generally stood 
abovit + 10°, and even in the underhold, which was not heated, 
but lay under the water-line, the temperature was never under, 
commonly 1° or 2° above, the freezing-point. 

Much greater inconvenience than from cold did we in the 
cabins suffer from the excessive heat and the fumes, which 
firinsf in large cast-iron stoves is wont to cause in small close rooms. 
When in the morning after a cold night the watch all too willingly 
obeyed the direction, which sounded from different quarters, to fire 
well, one had often his wish so thoroughly satisfied, that, in half an 
hour after, every man lay bathed in perspiration. There was no 
other help for it than to leave the cabin, take a cold bath and 
a good rub down, dress rapidly, rush on deck for fresh air, 
and cool in the temperature of —30° to —40° prevailing there. 
Other opportunities for bathing were also given both to the officers 
and crew, and the necessary care was taken to secure cleanliness, 
a sanitary measure which ought never to be neglected in Arctic 

The state of health on board during the course of the winter 
w^as exceedingly good. Dr. Almquist's report enumerates only 
a few serious maladies, all sviccessfully cured, among which may 
be mentioned stomach colds and slight cases of inflammation of 
the lungs, but not a single case of that insidious disease, scurvy, 
which formerly raged in such a frightful way among the crews 
in all long voyages, and which is still wont to gather so many 
victims from among Polar travellers. 

This good state of health depended in the first place on the 
excellent spirit which inspired the scientific men, the officers 
and the crew of the Expedition, but it ought also to be ascribed 
to the suitable equipment of the Vega, arranged by Captain 
Palander at Karlskrona, and above all to adjustment to the 


climate of our dietary, which was settled on the ground of the 
experience gained in the expedition of 1872-73, and after 
taking the advice of its distinguished physician Dr. Envall. 
The dietary is shown in the following table : — 

No. 1. Sunday. 

Breakfast : butter 6 ort, coffee ICf ort, sugar 7'5 ort.^ 
Dinner : salt pork or dried fish 75 ort, sourkrout 75 ort, pre- 
served or fresh potatoes 12 ort, preserved vegetables 5'5 ort, 
extract of meat 1'5 ort, raisins 5 ort, rice 50 ort, brandy or 
rum 2 cubic inches. 
Supper : butter 6 ort, tea 1*5 ort, sugar 7'5 ort, barley-groats 10 
cubic inches, cheese 12 ort. 

No. 2. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 

Breakfast same as No. 1. 

Dinner : preserved meat or fish 1 portion, preserved potatoes 1 2 
ort, preserved vegetables 5'5 ort, preserved leeks 1 portion, 
extract of meat 1*5 ort, brandy or rum 2 cubic inches. 

Supper same as No. 1 without cheese. 

No. 3. Thursday. 

Breakfast same as No. 1. 

Dinner : salt pork 1 lb., peas 10 cubic inches, extract of meat 1*5 

ort, barley- groats 2 cubic inches, brandy or rum 2 cubic 

Supper same as No. 2. 

No. 4. Tuesday. 

Breakfast : butter 6 ort, chocolate 10 ort, sugar 7*5 ort. 

Dinner : salt meat 1 lb., maccaroni 15 ort (or brown beans 10 

cubic inches or green peas 1 portion;, fruit soup 1 portion, 

brandy or rum 2 cubic inches. 
Supper same as No. 2. 

No. 5. Saturday. 

Breakfast same as No. 4. 

Dinner : preserved beeksteak or stewed beef 1 portion, preserved 
or fresh potatoes 12 ort, preserved leeks 1 portion, fruit 
soup 1 portion, brandy or rum 2 cubic inches. 

Supper same as No. 2. 

Every man besides had served out to him daily 1^ lb. dried 
bread or flour (| wheat and ^ rye), 3 ort tobacco and 2 cubic 
inches vinegar ; and weekly 1 lb. wheat-flour, 30 ort batter, 21 ort 
salt, 7 ort mustard, 3 ort pepper, and two cubic inches vinegar. 

1 1 lb. = 100 ort = 425-05 gram. 1 kaDna = 100 cubic inc'.ies = 2-617 litres. 


Besides what is included in the above list, " multegrot " 
(preserved cloudberries), mixed with rum, was served out twice a 
week from the 15th February to the 1st April. I would 
willingly have had a larger quantity of this, according to 
northern experience, excellent antidote to scurvy, but as the 
cloudberry harvest completely failed in 1877, I could not, at any 
price, procure for the Expedition the quantity that Avas required. 
There was purchased in Finland instead, a large quantity of 
cranberry-juice, which was regularly served out to the crew 
and much liked by them. We carried with us besides a pair of 
living swine, which were slaughtered for the Christmas festivities.^ 
All the men at that time had an opportunity of eating fresh 
pork twice a week, an invaluable interruption to the monotonous 
preserved provisions, which in its proportion conduced, during 
this festival, to which we inhabitants of the North are attached 
by so many memories, to enliven and cheer us. 


Gttdus navaga, Krilreuter. 
One-tliird of the natural size. 

The produce of hunting was confined during the course 
of the winter to some ptarmigan and hares, and tlius did not 
yield any contribution worth mentioning to the provisioning 
of the vessel. On the other hand, I was able by barter with 
the natives to procure fish in considerable abundance, so that at 
certain seasons the quantity was sufficient to allow of fresh 
fish being served out once a week. The kind of fish which was 
principally obtained during the winter, a sort of cod with 
greyish-green vertebra;, could however at first only be served 
in the gun-room, because the crew, on account of the colour of 
its bones, for a long time had an invincible dislike to it. 

On many of the ground-ices in the neighbourhood of the 
vessel there were fresh-water collections of considerable depth 
which indeed were already hard frozen on the surface, but long 

1 To carry auimals for slaughter on vessels duriug Polar expeditions 
cannot be snfficiently recommended. Their flesh acts beneficially by 
forming a change from the preserved provisions, which in course of time 
become exceedingly disagreeable, and their care a not less important 
interruption to the monotony of the winter life. 


yielded us splendid water for drinking and washing. After the 
14th of December, when all the smaller fresh- water collections 
were almost frozen to the bottom, and salt-water had made its 
way into the largest ones and those on wliich we most depended, 
it became necessary to procure water by melting ice. 

The meteorological observations were made every fourth hour 
up to the 1st November; after that to the 1st April every hour; 
after that again six times in the twenty-four hours. From the 
27th November to the 1st April the thermometers were set up on 
land at the magnetical observatory ; before and after that time 
in the immediate neighbourhood of the vessel. During winter 
the charge of the meteorological observations was intrusted to 
Dr. Stuxberg, who at that season when all around us was 
covered with ice, was compelled to let his own zoological 
researches rest. 

The state of the weather of course had a very sensible in- 
fluence on our daily life, and formed the touchstone by which 
our equipment was tested. Space does not permit me to 
give in this work the detailed results of the meteorological 
observations. I shall therefore only state the following facts. 

The greatest cold which was observed during the different 
months was in 

October the 24th - 20°-8 March the 29th - 39°-8 
November the 30th - 27°-2 
December the 23rd — 37°' 1 
January the 25th — 45°"7 
February the 2nd ~ 43''8 

Twice we had the barometer uncommonly high, viz. : 

On the 22nd December 6 a.m. 782-0 (0°) mm. 
On the 17th February 6 A.M. 7881 (0°} mm. 

The lowest atmospheric pressure, 728'8 (0°) mm., occurred on 
the 31st December at two o'clock p.m. 

The weather during the winter was very stormy, and the 
direction of the wind nearest the surface of the earth almost 
constantly between north-west and north-north-west. But 
already^ in atmospheric strata of inconsiderable height there 
prevailed, to judge by the direction of the clouds, a similar un- 
interrupted atmospheric current from the south-east, which when 
it (occasionally sank to the surface of the earth brought with it air 
that was warmer and less saturated with moisture. The reason 
(if this is easy^ to see, if we consider that Behring's Straits form 
a gate surrounded by pretty high mountains between the warm 
atmospheric area of the Pacific and the cold one of the Arctic 
Ocean. The winds must be arranged here approximately after the 
same laws as the draught in the door-opening between a w^m ami 


the loth - 

- 38°-0 


the 3rd - 

- 26°-8 


the 3rd - 

- 14°-3 


the 2nd- 



a cold room, that is to say, the cold current of air must go below 
from the cold room to the warm, the warm above from the warm 
room to the cold. The mountain heights which, according to 
the statement of the natives, are to be found in the interior of 
the Chukch peninsula besides conduce to the heat and dryness, 
of the southerly and south-easterly winds. For they confer on 
the sea winds that pass over their summits the properties of 
the fohn winds. Our coldest winds have come from S.W. to 
W., that is to say, from the Old World's pole of cold, situated in 
the region of Werchojansk. On the existence of two currents 
of air, which at a certain height above the surface of the earth 
contend for the mastery, depends also the surprising rapidity 
with which the vault of heaven in the region of Behring's Straits 
becomes suddenly clouded over and again completely clear. 
Already the famous Behring's Straits' navigator, Rodgers, now 
Admiral in the American Navy, had noticed this circumstance, 
and likened it very strikingly to the drawing up and dropping of 
the curtain of a theatre. 

In our notes on the weather a difference was always made 
between snoyixi (fall of snow in wind) and yrsno (snow-storm 
without snow-fall). The fall of snow was not very great, but as 
there was in the course of the winter no thaw of such continu- 
ance that the snow was at any time covered with a coherent 
melted crust, a considerable portion of the snow that fell re- 
mained so loose that with the least puff of wind it was whirled 
backwards and forwards. In a storm or strong breeze the snow 
was carried to higher strata of the atmosphere, which was 
speedily filled with so close and fine snow-dust, that objects at 
the distance of a few metres could no longer be distinguished. 
There was no possibility in such weather of keeping the way 
open, and the man that lost his way was helplessly lost, if he 
could not, like the Chukch snowed up in a drift, await the ceasing 
of the storm. But even when the wind was slight and the sky 
clear there ran a stream of snow some centimetres in height 
along the ground in the direction of the wind, and thus 
principally from N.W. to S.E. Even this shallow stream heaped 
snowdrifts everywhere where there was any protection from the 
wind, and buried more certainly, if less rapidly, than the drifting 
snow of the storm, exposed objects and trampled footpaths. The 
quantity of water, which in a frozen form is removed in this 
certainly not deep, but uninterrupted and rapid current over the 
north coast of Siberia to more southerly regions, must be equal 
to the mass of water in the giant rivers of our globe, and play 
a sufficiently great role, among others as a carrier of cold to 
the most northerly forest regions, to receive the attention of 

Th^ humidity of the air was observed both by August's 


psychrometcr and Saiissure's hygrometer. But I do not 
believe that these instruments give trustworthy results at a 
temperature considerably under the freezing-point. Moreover 
the degree of humidity at the place where there can be a 
question of setting up a ps^'^chrometer and hygrometer during 
a wintering in the high north, has not the meteorological 
importance which has often been ascribed to it. For the instru- 
ments are as a rule set up in an isolated louvre case, standing at 
a height above the surface convenient for reading. While the 
snow is drifting almost uninterruptedly it is impossible to keep 
this case clear of snow. Even the air, which was originally 
quite dry, must here be saturated with moisture through evapor- 
ation from the surrounding layers of snow and from the snow 
dust which whirls about next the surface of the earth. In order 
to determine the true degree of humidity in the air, I would 
accordino-ly advise future travellers to these regions to weicrh 
directly the water which a given measure of air contains by 
absorbing it in tubes with chloride of calcium, calcined sulphate 
of copper, or sulphuric acid. It would be easy to arrange an 
instrument for this purj)ose so that the whole work could be 
done under deck, the air from any stratum under the mast-top 
being examined at will. If I had had the means to make such 
an examination at the Vega's winter quarters, it would certainly 
have appeared that the relative humidity of the air at a height 
of some few metres above the surface of the earth was for the 
most part exceedingly small. 

The sandy neck of land which on the side next the vessel 
divided the lagoons from the sea, was bestrewn with colossal 
bones of the whale, and with the refuse of the Chukches, who 
had lived and wandered about there for centuries, and besides 
with portions of the skeleton of the seal and walrus, with the 
excreta of men, dogs, birds, &c. The region was among the 
most disagreeable I have seen in any of the parts inhabited 
by fishing LapjDs, Samoyeds, Chukches, or Eskimo. When 
the Vega was beset there were two Chukch villages on the 
neighbouring beach, of which the one that lay nearest our winter 
haven was called Pitlekaj. It consisted at first of seven tents, 
which in consequence of want of food their inhabitants removed 
gradually in the course of the winter to a region near Behring's 
Straits, where fish were more abundant. At the removal only 
the most indispensable articles were taken along, because there 
was an intention of returning at that season of the year when 
the chase again became more productive. The other encamp- 
ment, Yinretlen, lay nearer the cape towards Kolyutschin Bay, 
and reckoned at the befrinninc^ of our wintering likewise seven 
tents, whose inhabitants appeared to be in better circumstances 
than those of Pitlekaj. Tliey had during the autumn made a 




better catcli and collected a greater stock. Only some of them 
accordingly removed during winter. 

The following encampments lay at a somewhat greater dis- 
tance from our winter quarters, but so near, however, that we 
were often visited by their inhabitants : 

Pidlin, on the eastern shore of Kolyutschin Bay, four tents. 

Kolyutschin, on the island of the same name, twenty-five tents. 
This village Avas not visited by any of the members of the Vega 

E-irajtinop, situated six kilometres east of Pitlekaj, three tents. 

Irgunnuk, seven kilometres east of Pitlekaj, ten tents, of 
which, however, in February only four remained. The in- 
habitants of the others had for the winter sought a better 
fishing place farther eastward. 


Front face and Profile. 
(Aft"r photographs by L. Palander.) 

The number of the persons who belonged to each tent was 
difficult to make out, because the Chukches were constantly 
visiting each other for the purpose of gossip and talk. On an 
average it may perhaps be put at five or six persons. Including 
the inhabitants of Kolyutschin Island, there thus lived about 
300 natives in the neighbourhood of our winter quarters. 

When we were beset, the ice next the shore, as has been 
already stated, was too weak to carry a foot passenger, and the 
difficulty of reacliing the vessel from the land with the means 
which the Chukches had at their disposal was thus very great. 
When the natives observed us, there ivas in any case im- 
mediately a great commotion among them. Men, women, 


children, and dogs were seen running up and down the beach 
in eager confusion; some were seen driving in dog-sledges 
on the ice street next the sea. They evidently feared that the 
splendid opportunity which here lay before them of purchasing 
brandy and tobacco, would be ,lost. From the vessel we could 
see with glasses how several attempts were made to put out 
boats, but they were again given up, until at last a boat was got 
to a lane, clear of ice or only covered with a thin sheet, that ran 
from the shore to the neighbourhood of the vessel. In this a 
large skin boat was put out, which was filled brimful of men 
and women, regardless of the evident danger of navigating such 
a boat, heavily laden, through sharp, newly formed ice. They 
rowed immediately to the vessel, and on reaching it most of 
them climbed without the least hesitation over the gunwale with 
jests and laughter, and the cry anoaj anoaj (good day, good day). 
Our first meeting with the inhabitants of this region, where we 
afterwards passed ten long months, was on both sides very 
hearty, and formed the starting-point of a very friendly relation 
between the Chukches and ourselves, which remained unaltered 
during the whole of our stay. 

Regard for cleanliness comj^elled us to allow the Chukches 
to come below deck only exceptionally, which at first annoyed 
them much, so that one of them even showed a disposition to 
retaliate by keeping us out of the bedchamber in his tent. 
Our firmness on this point, however, combined with friendliness 
and generosity, soon calmed them, and it was not so easy for 
the men to exclude us from the inner tent, for in such visits 
we always had confections and tobacco with us, both for them- 
selves and for the women and children. On board the vessel's 
tent-covered deck soon became a veritable reception saloon for 
the whole population of the neighbourhood. Dog-team after 
dog-team stood all day in rows, or more correctly lay snowed up 
before the ice-built flight of steps to the deck of the Vega, 
patiently waiting for the return of the visitors, or for the 
pemmican I now and then from pity ordered to be given to the 
Imngered animals. The report of the arrival of the remarkable 
f(jreigners must besides have spread with great rapidity. For 
we soon had visits even from distant settlements, and the Vega 
finally became a resting-place at which every passer-by stopped 
with his dog-team for some hours in order to satisfy his curiosity, 
or to obtain in exchange for good words or some more acceptable 
wares a little warm food, a bit of tobacco, and sometimes when 
the weather was very stormy, a little drop of spirits, by the 
Chukches called ram, a word whose origin is not to be sought 
f(jr in the Swedish-Norwegian dram, but in the English word 

All who came on board were allowed to go about without let 

3*^8 THE VOYAGE OF THE VEGA. [chap. 

or hindrance on our deck, which was encumbered with a great 
many things. We had not however to lament the loss of the 
merest trifle. Honesty was as much at home here as in the 
huts of the reindeer Lapps. On the other hand, they soon 
became very troublesome by their beggary, which was kept in 
bounds by no feeling of self-respect. Nor did they fail to take 
all possible advantage of what they doubtless considered the 
great inexperience of the Europeans. Small deceptions in this 
way were evidently not looked upon as blameworthy, but as 
meritorious. Sometimes, for instance, they sold us the same 
thing twice over, they were always liberal in promises which 
they never intended to keep, and often gave deceptive accounts 
of articles which were exposed for sale. Thus the carcases of 
foxes were offered, after having been flayed and the head and 
feet cut off, on several occasions as hares, and it was laughable 
to see their astonishment at our immediately discovering the 
fraud. The Chukches' complete want of acquaintance with 
money and our small> supply of articles for barter for which they 
had a liking besides compelled even me to hold at least a portion 
(jf our wares at a high price. Skins and blubber, the common 
products of the Polar lands, to the great surprise of the natives, 
were not purchased on the Vega. On the other hand a complete 
collection of weapons, dresses, and household articles was pro- 
cured by barter. All such purchases were made exclusively 
on account of the Expedition, and in general the collection of 
natural and ethnographical objects for private account was wholly 
forbidden, a regulation which ought to be in force in every 
scientific expedition to remote regions. 

As the Chukches began to acquire a taste for our food, they 
never neglected, especially during the time when their hunting 
failed, to bring daily on board driftwood and the vertebrae and 
other bones of the whale. They bartered these for bread. A 
load of five bits of wood, from four to five inches in diameter 
and six feet long, was commonly paid for with two or three ship 
biscuits, that is to say with about 250 gram bread, the vertebra 
of a whale with two ship biscuits, &c. By degrees two young 
natives got into the habit of coming on board daily for the 
purpose of performing, quite at their leisure, the ofiice of 
servant. The cook was their patron, and they obtained from 
him in compensation for their services the larger share of the 
left victuals. So considerable a quantity of food was distributed 
partly as payment for services rendered or for goods purchased, 
partly as gifts, that we contributed in a very great degree to 
mitigate the famine which during midwinter threatened to 
break out among the population. 

None of the .natives in the neighbourhood of the Vegas 
winter station professed the Christian religion. None of them 




spoke any European language, though one or two knew a couple 
of English Avords and a Russian word of salutation. This was 
a very unfortunate circumstance, which caused us much trouble. 
But it was soon remedied by Lieut. Nordquist specially devoting 
himself to the study of their language, and that with such zeal 
and success that in a fortnight he could make himself pretty 
well understood. The natives stated to De Long in the autumn 
of 1879 that a person on the "man of war" which wintered on 
the north coast, spoke Chukch exceedingly well. The difficulty 
of studying the language was increased, to a not inconsiderable 
degree, by the Chukches in their wish to co-operate with us in 
finding a common speech being so courteous as not to correct, 
but to adopt the mistakes, in the pronunciation or meaning of 
words that were made on the Vega. As a fruit of his studies 
Lieut. Nordquist has drawn up an extensive vocabulary of this 
little known language, and given a sketch of its grammatical 
structure.^ The knowledge of the Chukch language, which 

^ I give here an extract from the Vocabulary, that the reader may form 
some idea of the language of the north-east point of Asia : — • 

Tndergin, heaven. 
T'lrlir, the sun. 
Yedlin, the moon. 
AngdtUngan, a star. 
Nutatschka, land. 
Anglca, sea. 
Ljedljenki, winter. 
Edljek, summer. 
EdJjongat, day. 
Nekita, night. 
Ayguon^ yesterday. 
tetkin, to-day. 
Ergatti, to-morrow. 
Gnunian, north. 
Emnungku, south. 
Nikdyan, east. 
KayradJjgin, west. 
Tin tin, ice. 
Atljatlj, snow. 
Yeetedli, the aurora. 
Yengeen, mist. 
Tedljgio, storm. 
Eek, tire. 
Klja u///,aman,a human 

Ordedlja, men. 
Nediren, a woman. 
Nenena, a child. 
Empendtuchjo, father. 
Empengait, mother. 
LJeut, head. 
Ljeutljka, face. 
Dljedljadlin, eye. 

Liljdptkourgin, to see. 
Huedljodlin, ear. 
Huedljokodljdurgin, to 

Huddljomerk'm, to un- 
Huedljountdkurgin, not 

to understand. 
Yekd, nose. 
Yekergin, mouth. 
Kametkuaurgin, to eat. 
Yedlinedljourgin, to 

Mdmmah, a woman's 

Mammatkourgh), to 

give suck. 
Yeet, foot. 

Retschaurgin, to stand. 
Yetkatjergin, to lie. 
Tschipiska, to sleep. 

to learn. 
Pintekatkdurgin, to be 

Kaertrdljirgin, to die. 
Kdmakatan,io be sick. 
Kdmak, the Deity, a 

guardian S^nrit. 
Ydranga, tent. 
EtxchengeratUn, lamp. 
drt/uor, sledge. 
Atkuut, boat. 

AnetJjkatJj, fishing- 
Anedljourgin, to angle. 
Uddlin, knife. 
Tsehupak, Kdmeak^ 

Umku, Polar bear. 
Rerka, walrus. 
Memetlj, seal. 
Korang, reindeer. 
Gdtlje, bird. 
Enne, fish. 

Gurgur, dwarf-birch. 
Kukatkokongadlin, wil- 
Ge.m^ I. 
Geninin, mine. 
Get, you. 
Genin, yours. 
Enkan, he. 
Muri, we. 
Turi, you. 
Mdyngin, much. 
Fljukin, little. 
Konjpong, all. 
7, yes. 
Etlje, no. 

Jfetschinka, thanks. 
Ennen, one. 
Nirak, two. 
Nrok, three. 
Nrak, four. 
3IetlJi)igan, five. 
B B 



the other members of the Expedition acc[uired, was confined to 
a larger or smaller number of words ; the natives also learned a 
word or two of our language, so that a lingua franca 
somewhat intelligible to both parties gradually 
arose, in which several of the crew soon became very 
much at home, and with which in case of necessity 
one could get along very well, although in this 
newly formed dialect all grammatical inflections 
were totally wanting. Besides, I set one of the 
crew, the walrus-hunter Johnsen, free for a con- 
siderable time from all work on board, in order that 
he might wander about the country daily, partly 
for hunting, partly for conversing with the natives. 
He succeeded in the beginning of winter in killing 
some ptarmigan and hares, got for me a great deal 
of important information regarding the mode of 
life of the Chukches, and procured several valuable 
ethnographical objects. But after a time, for what 
reason I could never make out, he took an in- 
vincible dislike to visit the Chukch tents more, 
without however having come to any disagreement 
with their inhabitants. 

On the 5th October the openings between the 
drift-ice fields next the vessel were covered with 
splendid skating ice, of which we availed ourselves 
by celebrating a gay and joyous skating festival. 
The Chukch women and children were now seen 
fishing for winter roach along the shore. In this 
sort of fishing a man, who always accompanies the 
fishing women, with an iron-shod lance cuts a 
hole in the ice so near the shore that the distance 
between the under corner of the hole and the 
bottom is only half a metre. Each hole is used 
only by one woman, and that only for a short 
time. Stooping down at the hole, in which the 
surface of the water is kept quite clear of j)ieces of 
ice by means of an ice-sieve, she endeavours to 
attract the fish by means of a peculiar wonderfully 
clattering cry. First when a fish is seen in 
the water an angling line, provided with a hook of 
bone, iron or copper, is thrown down, strips of the 
entrails of fish being employed as bait. A small 
metre-long staff with a single or double crook 
in the end was also used as a fishing implement. 
With this little leister tlie men cast up fish on the ice with 
incredible dexterity. When the ice became thicker, this fishing 

B B 2 


One-eighth of 
the natural size. 




was entirely given up, while during the whole winter a species 
of cod and another of grayling were taken in great quantity 
in a lagoon situated nearer Behring's Straits. The coregonus is 
also caught in the inland lakes, although, at least at this season 
of the year, only in limited quantity. 

On the morning of the 6th October, we saw from the vessel 
an extraordinary processix)n moving forward on the ice. A 
number of Chukches drew a dog-sledge on which lay a man. 
At first we supposed it was a man who was very ill, and who 
came to seek the help of the physician, but when the proces- 
sion reached the vessel's side, the supposed invalid climbed 
very nimbly up the ice-covered rope-ladder (our ice-stair was 
not yet in order), stepped immediately with a confident air, 
giving evidence of high rank, upon the half-deck, crossed himself, 
saluted graciously, and gave us to know in broken Russian that 
he was a man of importance in that part of the country. It 


Osmerus eperlanvs, Lin. 
One third of the natural size. 

now appeared that we were honoured with a visit from the 
representative of the Russian empire, Wassili Menka, the 
starost among the reindeer-Chukches. He was a little 'dark 
man, with a pretty worn appearance, clad in a white varieo-ated 
" pesk " of reindeer skin, under which a blue flannel shu-t was 
visible. In order immediately on his arrival to inspire us with 
respect, and perhaps also in order not to expose his precious 
life to the false Ran's treachery, he came to the vessel over the 
yet not quite trustworthy ice, riding in a sledge that was drawn 
not by dogs but by his men. On his arrival he immediately 
showed us credentials of his rank, and various evidences of the 
payment of tribute (or market tolls), consisting of some few red 
and some white fox-skins, reckoning the former at 1 rouble 80 
copecks, the latter at 40 copecks each, 

' He was immediately invited down to the gimroom, enter- 
tained after the best of our ability, and bothered with a number 




of questions which he evidently understood with difficulty, and 
answered in very unintelligible Russian. He was in any case 
the first with Avhom some of us could communicate, at least in a 
way. He could neither read nor write. On the other hand, he 
could quickly comprehend a map which was shown him, and 
point out with great accuracy a number of the more remarkable 
places in north-eastern Siberia, Of the existence of the Russian 
emperor the first official of the region had no idea; on the 
other hand, he knew that a very powerful person had his home 
at Irkutsk. On us he conferred the rank of " Ispravnik " in the 
neiofhbouriuof towns. At first he crossed Iximself with much 



Btarost among the Reindeer Chukches 
(After a photograph by L. Talander.) 

zeal before some photographs and copper-plate engravings in 
the gunroom, but he soon ceased when he observed that we 
did not do likewise. Menka was accompanied by two badly- 
clad natives with very oblique eyes, whom we took at first for 
his servants or slaves. Afterwards we found that they were 
owners of reindeer, who considered themselves quite as good as 
Menka himself, and further on we even heard one of them 
speak of Menka' s claim to be a chief with a compassionate 
smile. Now, however, they were exceedingly respectful, and it 
was by them that Menka's gift of welcome, two reindeer roasts, 
was carried forward with a certain stateliness. As a return 


present we gave him a woollen shirt and some parcels of tobacco. 
Menka said that he should travel in a few days to Markova, a 
place inhabited by Russians on the river Anadyr, in the neigh- 
bourhood of the old Anadyrsk. Although I had not yet given 
up hope of getting free before winter, I wished to endeavour 
to utilize this opportunity of sending home accounts of the 
Vega's position, the state of matters on board, &c. An open 
letter was therefore written in Russian, and addressed to his 
Excellency the Governor-General at Irkutsk, with the request 
that he would communicate its contents to his Majesty, King 
Oscar. This was placed, along with several private sealed 
letters between a couple of pieces of board, and handed over to 
Menka with a request to give them to the Russian authorities 
at Markova. At first it appeared as if Menka understood the 
letter as some sort of further credentials for himself. For when 
he landed he assembled, in the presence of some of us, a circle 
of Chukches round himself, placed himself with dignity in their 
midst, opened out the paper, but so that he had it upside down, 
and read from it long sentences in Chukch to an attentive 
audience, astonished at his learning. Next forenoon we had 
another visit of the great and learned chief. New presents 
were exchanged, and he was entertained after our best ability. 
Finally he danced to the chamber-organ, both alone and 
together with some of his hosts, to the great entertainment of 
the Europeans and Asiatics present. 

As the state of the ice was still unaltered, I did not neglect 
the opportunity that now offered of making acquaintance with 
the interior of the country. With pleasure, accordingly, I gave 
Lieutenants Nordquist and Hovgaard permission to pay a visit 
to Menka' s encampment. They started on the morning of the 
8th October. 'Lieut. Nordquist has given me the following 
account of their excursion : — 

" On Tuesday, the 8th October, at 10 o'clock A.M. Lieut. 
Hovgaard r- and I travelled from Pitlekaj in dog-sledges into 
the interior in a S.S.E. direction. Hovgaard and I had 
each a Chukch as driver. Menka had with him a servant, who 
almost all the time ran before as guide. My comrade's sledge, 
which was heaviest, was drawn by ten dogs, mine by eight, and 
Menka' s, which was the smallest and in which he sat alone, by 
five. In general the Chukches appear to reckon four or five 
dogs sufficient for a sledge with one person. 

" The tundra, with marshes and streams scattered over it, 
was during the first part of our way only gently undulating, 
but the farther we went into the interior of the country the 
more uneven it became, and when, at 8 o'clock next morning, 
we reached the goal of our journey — Menka's brother's camp — 




we found ourselves in a valley, surrounded by Lills, some of 
which rose about 300 metres above their bases. A portion of 
the veo^etable covering the tundra covild still be distins^uished 
through the thin layer of snow. The most common plants on 
the drier jjlaces were Aira nipiua and Foa aJpina ; on the more 
low-lying places there grew Glyceria, Pedicularis, and Ledum 
2Mhcstre ; everywhere we found Petasitcs frigida and a species 
of Salix. The latter grew especially on the slopes in great 
masses, which covered spots having an area of twenty to thirty 
square metres. At some places this bush rose to a height of 
about a metre above the ground. The prevailing rock appeared 
to be granite. The bottoms of the valleys were formed of post- 
Tertiary formations, which most frequently consisted of sand and 
rolled stones, as, for instance, was the case in the great valley 
in which Menka's brother's camp was pitched. 

" When, on the morning of the 9th, we came to the camp 
there met us some of the principal Chukches. They saluted 
Menka in the Russian way, by kissing him first on both cheeks 


and then on the mouth. The Chukches, however, appear to 
be very averse to this ceremony, and scarcely ever touched 
each other with the mouth. Us they saluted in the common 
way, by stretching out the hand and bowing themselves. We 
then went into Menka's brother's tent, in front of which the 
whole inhabitants of the encampment were speedily assembled 
to look at us. The camp consisted of eighteen tents, pitched 
on both sides of a river which ran through the valley. The 
tents were inhabited, by reindeer-Chukches, who carry on traffic 
between the Russians and a tribe living on the other side of 
Behring's Straits, whom they call Yekargmdcs. Between the 
tents we saw a great number of sledges, both empty and loaded. 
Some of these were light and low sledges for driving in, with 
runners bent upwards and backwards, others were heavier pack- 
sledges, made of stronger wood, with the runners not bent back. 
Some of the light sledges were provided with tilts of sj^lints 
covered with reindeer skins ; others were completely covered, 
having an entrance only in front. 


" The knives, axes, boring tools, &c., which I saw were of 
iron and steel, and had evidently been obtained from Americans 
or Russians. The household articles in Menka's brother's tent 
consisted of some copper coffee-pots, which were used for 
boiling water, a german-silver beaker with an English in- 
scription, two teacups with saucers, flat wooden trays, and barrels. 
The dress of the reindeer-Chukches is similar to that of the 
coast-Chukches, only with this difference, that the former use 
reindeer-skins exclusively, while the latter employ seal-skin in 
addition. Some, on our arrival, put on blouses of variegated 
cloth, probably of Russian manufacture. Among ornaments 
may be mentioned glass-beads, strung on sinews, which were worn 
in the ears or on the neck, chiefly by the women. These were 
tattooed in the same way as those of the coast-Chukches. I saw 
here, however, an old woman, who, besides the common tattooing 
of the face, was tattooed on the shoulders, and another, who, 
on the outside of the hands, had two parallel lines running 
along the hand and an oblique line connecting them. The 
men were not tattooed. Two of them carried crosses, with 
Slavonic inscriptions, at the neck, others carried in the same 
way forked pieces of wood. Whether these latter are to be 
considered as their gods or as amulets I know not. 

" As we could not obtain here the reindeer that we wished 
to purchase on account of the expedition, we betook ourselves 
with our dogs on the afternoon of the same day along with 
Menka to his son-in-law's encampment, which we reached at 
8 o'clock in the evening. We were received in a very friendly 
way, and remained here over night. All the inhabitants of the 
tent sleep together in the bedchamber of it, which is not 
more than 2 to 2'4 metres long, 1'8 to 2 metres broad, and 1'2 
to 1'5 metres high. Before they lie down they take supper. 
Men and women wear during the night only a cingulum ptcdi- 
citicc, about fifteen centimetres broad, and are otherwise com- 
pletely naked. In the morning the housewife rose first and 
boiled a little flesh, which, was then served in the bedchamber, 
before its inmates had put on their clothes. She cut the meat 
in slices in a tray, and distributed them afterwards. In the 
morning we saw the Clmkches catch and slaughter their reindeer. 
Two men go into the herd, and when they have got sight of a 
reindeer which they wish to have, they cast, at a distance of 
nine or ten metres, a running noose over the animal's horns. 
It now throws itself backwards and forwards in its attempts to 
escape, and drags after it for some moments the man who holds 
the noose. The other man in the meanthne endeavours to 
approach the reindeer, catches the animal by the horns and 
throws it to the ground, killing it afterwards by a knife-stab 
behind the shoulder. The reindeer is then handed over to the 


women, who, by an incision in the side of the belly, take out 
the entrails. The stomach is emptied of its contents, and is 
then used to hold the blood. Finally the skin is taken off. 

" About 10 o'clock A.M. we commenced our homeward journey. 
At nightfall we souoht to have a roof over our head in a 
wretched Chukch tent on the shore of Lake Utschunutsch. It 
was partly sunk in one of the small mounds which are found 
here along the shore, and which are probably the remains of 
old Onkilon dwellings. The present inhabitants, two old men 
and an old woman, had their habitation arranged in the follow- 
ing way : — In the bottom of a cylindrical pit, one metre deep 
and three and a half to four and a half metres in diameter, a 
vertical pole was erected, against the upper end of which rested 
a number of obliquely placed bars, rising from the edge of the 
pit, which were covered with skins. The enclosure or bed- 
chamber, peculiar to the Chukch tent, was not wanting here. 
Otherwise the whole dwelling bore the stamp of poverty and 
du't. The food of the inmates appeared to be fish. Of this, 
besides the fish we obtained here, the nets hanging in front of 
the tent afforded evidence. Some clothes, an iron pot, two 
wooden vessels, and a Shaman drum were the only things I 
could discover in the tent. 

" Next morning we continued our journey. On the other 
side of Lake Utschunutsch we saw two dwellings, which 
only consisted of boats turned upside down with some hides 
drawn over them. The rest of the way we came past ISTajtskaj 
and through Irgunnuk, where we were received in an exceed- 
ingly friendly fashion. By 7 o'clock in the evening of the 11th 
October we were again on board the Vega." 

From Lieutenant Hovgaard's report, which principally relates 
to the topography of the region passed through, we make the 
following extract relating to the endurance which the Chukches 
and their dogs showed : — 

" During our outward journey, which lasted twenty-ona and a 
half hours, Menka's attendant, the before-mentioned reindeer 
owner, whom we at first took to be Menka's slave or servant, 
ran without interruption before the sledges, and even when we 
rested he was actively searching for the track, looking after the 
dogs, &c. When we came to the camp he did not sleep, and, 
notwithstanding, was as fresh during the following day's journey. 
During the time he got no spirituous liquor, by express order of 
Menka, who said that if he did he would not be able to continue 
to run. Instead he chewed a surprising quantity of tobacco. 
The dogs, during the whole time, were not an instant unyoked ; 
in the mornings they lay half snowed up, and slept in front of 
the sledges. We never saw the Chukches give them any food : 


the only food they got was the frozen excrements of the fox and 
other animals, which they themselves snapped up in passing. 
Yet even on the last day no diminution in their power of 
draught was observable." 

Nordquist brought with him, among other things, two rein- 
deer, bought for a rouble and a half each. They were still 
very serviceable, though badly slaughtered. But the reindeer 
we purchased farther on in the winter were so poor that no one 
on board could persuade himself to eat them. 

On the I8th October, by which time we believed that Menka 
would be already at Markova we were again visited by him and 
his son-in-law. He said he had no akmiviil (fire-water) to keep 
holiday with, and now came to us to exchange three slaughtered 
reindeer for it. Our miscalculation with respect to the letters, 
which we hoped were long ago on their way to their destination, 
and my dislike to the mode of payment in question — I offered 
him, without success, half-imperials and metal rouble pieces 
instead of brandy — made his reception on this occasion less 
hearty, and he therefore left us soon. It was not until the 
9th February, 1879, that we again got news from Menka by one 
of the Chukches, who had attended him the time before. The 
Chukch said that in ten days he had traversed the way between 
the Vega's winter haven and Markova, which would run to 
about ninety kilometres a day. According to his statement 
Menka had travelled with the letters to Yakutsk. The statement 
seemed very suspicious, and appeared afterwards to have 
been partly fabricated, or perhaps to have been misunderstood 
by us. But after our return to the world of newspapers we 
found that Menka had actually executed his commission. He, 
however, did not reach Anadyrsk until the ^^^^fp^t^^^- Thence 
the packet was sent to Irkutsk, arriving there on the l^nrr^rn- The 
news reached Sweden by telegraph six days after, on the 16th 
May, just at a time when concern for the fate of the Vega was 
beginning to be very great, and the question of relief expeditions 
was seriously entertained.^ 

In order to relieve the apprehensions of our friends at home, 
it was, however, exceedingly important to give them some 
accounts of the position of the Vega during winter, and I 
therefore offered all the purchasing power which the treasures 
of guns, powder, ball, food, fine shirts, and even spirits, collected 
on board, could exert, in order to induce some natives to convey 
Lieutenants Nordquist and Bove to Markova or Nischni 
Kolymsk. The negotiations seemed at first to go on very well, 

^ Tlie King of Sweden lias since ordered a gold medal to be given to 
Wassili Menka in recognition of the fidelity witli whicli lie executed the 
commission of carrying our letters to a Kussian post station. 


an advance was demanded and given, but when the journey 
should have commenced the Chukches always refused to start 
on some pretext or other — now it was too cold, now too dark, 
now there was no food for the dogs. The negotiations had thus 
no other result than to make us acquainted with one of the 
few less agreeable sides of the Chukches' disposition, namely 
the complete untrustworthiness of these otherwise excellent 
savages, and their peculiar idea of the binding force of an 

The plans of travel just mentioned, however, led to Lieu- 
tenant Nordquist making an excursion with dog-sledges in order 
to be even \yith one of the natives, who had received an advance 
for driving him to Markova, but had not kept his promise. 
Of this journey Lieutenant Nordquist gives the following 
account : — 

" On the 5th December, at 7.50 a.m., I started with a dog- 
sledge for the village Pidlin, lying on Kolyutschin Bay. I was 
driven by the Chukch Auango from Irgunnuk. He had a small, 
light sledge, provided with runners of whalebone, drawn by six 
dogs, of which the leader was harnessed before the other five, 
which were fastened abreast in front of the sledge, each with its 
drauofht belt. The do^s were weak and ill manacjed, and there- 
fore went so slowly that I cannot estimate their speed at more 
than two or three English miles an hour. As the journey both 
thither and back lasted eight to nine hours, the distance between 
Pitlekaj and Pidlin may be about twenty-five English miles. 

" Pidlin and Kolyutschin Island are the only inhabited places 
on Kolyutschin Bay. At the former place there are four tents, 
pitched on the eastern shore of the bay, the number of the 
inhabitants being a little over twenty persons. I was received 
in front of the tents by the population of the village and 
carried to the tent, which was inhabited by Chepcho, who now 
promised to go with me in February to Anadyrsk. My host 
had a wife and three children. At night the children were 
completely undressed ; the adults had short trousers on, the 
man of tanned skin, the woman of cloth. In the oppressive 
heat, which was kept up by two train-oil lamps burning the 
whole night, it was difiicult to sleep even in the heavy reindeer- 
skin dresses. Yet they covered themselves with reindeer skins. 
Besides the heat there was a fearful stench — the Chukches 
obeyed the calls of nature within the bedchamber — which I 
could not stand without going out twice to get fresh air. When 
we got up next morning our hostess served breakfast in a flat 
tray, containing first seals' flesh and fat, with a sort of sour- 
krout of fermented willow-leaves, then seals' liver, and finally 
seals' blood — all frozen. 


" Among objects of etlinographical interest I saw, besides the 
Sbaman drum which was found in every tent, and was not 
regarded with the sviperstitious dread which I have often 
observed elsewhere, a bundle of amulets fastened with a small 
thong, a wolf's skull, which was also hung up by a thong, the 
skin together with the whole cartilaginous portion of a wolf's 
nose and a flat stone. The amulets consisted of wooden forks, 
four to five centirrietres long, of the sort which we often see the 
Chukches wear on the breast. My host said that such an 
amulet worn round the neck was a powerful means of pre- 
venting disease. The wolfs skull which I had already got, he 
took back, because his four- or five-year-old son would need it 
in making choice of a wife. What part it played in ithis I did 
not however ascertain. 

" While my driver harnessed the dogs for the journey home, 
I had an opportunity of seeing some little girls dance, which 
they did in the same way as that in which I had seen girls 
dance at Pitlekaj and Yinretlen. Two girls then place them- 
selves either right opposite to or alongside of each other. In the 
former case they often lay their hands on each other's shoulders, 
bend by turns to either side, sometimes leap with the feet held 
together and wheel round, while they sing or rather grunt 
the measure, 

" The journey home was commenced at eight o'clock in the 
morning. In the course of it my driver sang Chukch songs. 
These are often only imitations of the cries of animals or 
improvisations without any distinct metre or rhythm, and very 
little variation in the notes ; only twice I thought I could dis- 
tinguish a distinct melody. In the afternoon my driver told 
me the Chukch names of several stars. At five o'clock in the 
afternoon I reached the Vega," 

On the 10th October, the new ice at many places in the neigh- 
bourhood of the vessel was still so weak that it was impossible to 
walk upon it, and blue water-skies at the horizon indicated, that 
there were still considerable stretches of open water in the neigh- 
bourhood. But the drift-ice round about us lay so rock-fast, that 
I could already take solar altitudes from the deck of the vessel 
with a mercurial horizon. In order to ascertain the actual state 
of the case with reference to the open water, excursions were 
undertaken on the 13th October, in different directions. Dr. 
Kj oilman could then, from the rocky promontory at Yinretlen, 
forty-two metres high, see large open spaces in the sea to the 
northward. Dr. Almquist went right out over the ice, following 
the track of Chukches, who had gone to catch seals. He 
travelled about twenty kilometres over closely packed drift-ice 
fields, without reaching open water, and found the newly frozen 



ice, with which the pieces of drift-ice were bound together, still 
everywhere unbroken. The Chukches, who visited the vessel 
in dog-sledges on the 28th October, informed us, however, that 
the sea a little to the east of us was still completely open. 

On the 15th October the hunter Johnsen returned from a 
hunting expedition quite terrified. He informed us that during 
his wanderings on the timdra, he had found a murdered man and 
brought with him, with the idea that, away here in the land of 
the Chukches, similar steps ought to be taken as in those lands 
which are blessed by a well-ordered judiciary, as species facti, 
some implements lying beside the dead man, among which 
was a very beautiful lance, on whose blade traces of having been 
inlaid in gold could still be discovered. Fortunately he had 
come with these things through the Chukch camp unobserved. 
From the description which was given me, however, I was able 
immediately to come to the conclusion that the question here 
was not of any murder, but of a dead man laid out on the 
tundra. I requested Dr. Almquist to visit the place, in order 
that he might make a more detailed examination. He con- 
firmed my conjecture. As wolves, foxes, and ravens had already 
torn the corpse to pieces, the doctor considered that he, too, 
might take his share, and therefore brought home with him 
from his excursion, an object carefully wrapped up and concealed 
among the hunting equipment, namely, the Chukch's head. It 
was immediately sunk to the sea-bottom, where it remained for 
a couple of weeks to be skeletonised by the Crustacea swarming 
there, and it now has its number in the collections brought 
home by the Vega. This sacrilege was never detected by the 
Chukches, and probably the wolves got the blame of it, as 
nearly every spring it was seen that the corpse, which had been 
laid out during autumn, lost its head during winter. It was, 
perhaps, more difiicult to explain the disappearance of the 
lance, but of this, too, the maws of the wolves might well bear 
the blame. 

Our hunters now made hunting excursions in different 
directions, but the supply of game was scanty. The openings 
in the ice probably swarmed with seals, but they were too dis- 
tant, and without a boat it was impossible to carry on any 
hunting there. Not a single Polar bear now appeared to be 
visible in the neighbourhood, although bears' skulls are found at 
several places on the beach, and this animal appears to play a 
great part in the imagination of the natives, to judge of the 
many figures of bears among the bone carvings I purchased 
from the Chukches. The natives often have a small strip of 
bear's skin on the seat of their sledges, but I have not seen any 
whole bear's skin here ; perhaps the animal is being extermin- 
ated on the north coast of Siberia. Our wintering, therefore. 




will not enrich Arctic literature with any new bear stories — 
a very sensible difficulty for the writer himself. Wolves, on the 
other hand, occur on the tundra in sufficient abundance, even if 
one or other of the wolves found in mist and drifting snow, 
and saluted with shot, turned out, on a critical determination of 
species, to be our own dogs. At least, this was the case with the 
" wolf," that inveigled one of the crew into shooting a ball one 
dark night right through the thermometer case, fortunately 
without injuring the instruments, and with no other result than 
that he had afterwards to bear an endless number of jokes from 


\ M 



(Tlie two largest figures represent bears.) 

his comrades on account of his wolf-hunt. Foxes, white, red 
and black, also occurred here in great numbers, but they were 
at that season difficult to get at, and besides they had perhaps 
withdrawn from the coast. Hares, on the other hand, maintained 
themselves during the whole winter at Yinretlen, by day partly 
out on the ice partly on the cape, by night in the neighbourhood 
of the tents. Sweepings and offal from the proceeds of the 
chase had there produced a vegetation, which, though concealed 
by snow, yielded to the hares in winter a more abundant supply 


of food than the barren tundra. It was remarkable that the 
hares were allowed to live between the tents and in their neigh- 
bourhood without being disturbed by the score of lean and 
hungry dogs belonging to the village. When farther into the 
winter for the sake of facilitating the hare-hunting I had a hut 
erected for Johnson the hunter, he chose as the place for it 
the immediate neighbourhood of the village, declaring that the 
richest hunting-ground in the whole neighbourhood was just 
there. The shooters stated that part of the hares became 
snow-blind in spring. The hares here are larger than with us, 
and have exceedingly delicious flesh. 







On our arrival most of the birds had already left these 
regions, so inhospitable in winter, or were seen high up in the 
air in collected flocks, flying towards the south entrance of 
Behring's Straits. Still on the 19th October an endless pro- 
cession of birds was seen drawing towards this region, but by 
the 3rd November it was noted, as something uncommon, that 
a gull settled on the refuse heaps in the neighbourhood of the 
vessel. It resembled the ivory gull, but had a black head. 
Perhaps it was the rare Larus Sahinii, of which a drawing has 
been given above.' All the birds which passed us came from 
the north-west, that is, from the north coast of Siberia, the 
New Siberian Islands or Wrangel Land. Only the mountain 

1 See p. 93. 


owl, a species of raven and the ptarmigan wintered in the 
region, the last named being occasionally snowed up. 

The ptarmigan here is not indeed so plump and good as the 
Spitzbergen ptarmigan during winter, but in any case provided 
us with an always welcome, if scanty change from the tiresome 
preserved meat. When some ptarmigan were shot, they were 
therefore willingly saved up by the cook, along with the hares, 
for festivals. For in order to break the monotony on board an 
opportunity was seldom neglected that offered itself for holding 
festivities. Away there on the coast of the Chukch peninsula 
there were thus celebrated with great conscientiousness during 
the winter of 1878-9, not only our own birthdays but also those 
of King Oscar, King Christian and King Humbert, and of the 
Emperor Alexander. Every day a newspaper was distributed, 
for the day indeed, but for a past year. In addition we numbered 
among our diversions constant intercourse with the natives, and 
frequent visits to the neighbouring villages, driving in dog- 
sledges, a sport which would have been very enjoyable if the 
dogs of the natives had not been so exceedingly poor and bad, 
and finally industrious reading and zealous studies, for which I 
had provided the expedition with an extensive library, intended 
both for the scientific men and oflQcers, and for the crew, 
numbering with the private stock of books nearly a thousand 

All this time of course the purely scientific work was not 
neglected. In the first rank among these stood the meteoro- 
logical and magnetical observations, which from the 1st November 
were made on land every hour. However fast the ice lay 
around the vessel it was impossible to get on it a sufficiently 
stable base for the magnetical variation instrument. The 
magnetical observatory was therefore erected on land of the 
finest building material any architect has had at his disposal, 
namely, large parallelopipeds of beautiful blue-coloured ice- 
blocks. The building was therefore called by the Chukches 
Tintimjaranga (the ice-house), a name which was soon adopted 
by the Vega men too. As mortar the builder, Palander, used 
snow mixed with water, and the whole was covered with a 
roof of boards. But as after a time it appeared that the storm 
made its way through the joints and that these were gradually 
growing larger in consequence of the evaporation of the ice 
so that the drifting snow could find an entrance, the whole 
house had a sail drawn over it. As supports of the three 
variation instruments large blocks of wood were used, whose 
lower ends were sunk in pits, which, with great trouble, were 
excavated in the frozen ground, and then, when the block 
supports were placed, were filled with sand mixed with water. 

The ice-house was a spacious observatory, well-fitted for its 




purpose in every respect. It had but one defect, the tempera- 
ture was always at an uncomfortably low point. As no iron 
could be used in the building, and we had no copper-stove with 
us, we could not have any fireplace there. We endeavoured, 
indeed, to use a copper fireplace, that had been intended for 
sledge journeys, for heating, but only with the result that the 
observatory was like to have gone to pieces. We succeeded 
little better when we discovered farther on in the winter, while 
trimming the hold, a forgotten cask of bear's oil. We con- 
sidered this find a clear indication that instead of a stove fired 
with wood we should, according to the custom of the Polar 
races, use oil-lamps to mitigate the severe cold which deprived 


(After a drawing by O. Nordquist.) 

our stay in Tintinyaranga of part of its pleasure. Bvit this mode 
of firing proved altogether impracticable. The fumes of the 
oil smelled worse than those of the charcoal, and the result of 
this experiment was none other than that the splendid crystals 
of ice, with which the roof and walls of the ice-house were 
gradually clothed, were covered with black soot. Firing with 
oil was abandoned, and the oil presented to our friends at 
Yinretlen, who just then were complaining loudly that they 
had no other fuel than wood. 

Besides the nine scientific men and ofiicers of the Vega, the 

C G 


engineer Nordstrom and the seaman Lundgren took part in the 
magnetical and meteorological observations. Every one had his 
watch of six hours, five of which were commonly passed in the 
ice-house. To walk from the vessel to the observatory, distant 
a kilometre and a half, with the temperature under the freezing 
point of mercury, or, what was much worse, during storm, with 
the temperature at — 36°, remain in the observatory for five 
hours in a temperature of —17°, and then return to the vessel, 
commonly against the wind — for it came nearly always from the 
north or north-west — was dismal enough. None of us, however, 
suffered any harm from it. On the contrary, it struck me as 
if this compulsory interruption to our monotonous life on board 
and the long-continued stay in the open air had a refreshing- 
influence both on body and soul. 

In the neighbourhood of the ice-house the thermometer case 
was erected, and farther on in the winter there were built in the 
surrounding snowdrifts, two other observatories, not however 
of ice, but of snow, in the Greenland snow-building style. Our 
depot of provisions was also placed in the neighbourhood, and 
at a sufficient distance from the magnetical observatory there 
was a large wooden chest, in which the Remington guns, which 
were carried for safety in excursions from the vessel, and other 
iron articles which the observer had with him, were placed before 
he entered the observatory. 

The building of Tintinyaranga was followed by the Chukches 
with great interest. When they saw that we did not intend 
to live there, but that rare, glancing metal instruments were 
set up in it, and that a wonderfully abundant flood of light in 
comparison with their tent illumination was constantly main- 
tained inside with a kind of light quite unknown to them 
(stearine candles and photogen lamps) a curious uneasiness 
began to prevail among them, which we could not quiet with 
the language of signs mixed with a Chukch word or two, to 
which our communications with the natives were at that time 
confined. Even farther on in the year, when an efficient though 
word-poor international language had gradually been formed 
between us, they made inquiries on this point, yet with consider- 
able indifference. All sensible people among them had evidently 
already come to the conclusion that it was profitless trouble 
to seek a reasonable explanation of all the follies which the 
strange foreigners, richly provided with many earthly gifts but 
by no means with practical sense, perpetrated. In any case 
it w-as with a certain amazement and awe that they, when they 
exceptionally obtained permission, entered one by one through 
the doors in order to see the lamps burn and to peep into 
the tubes. Many times even a dog-team that had come a long 
way stopped for a few moments at the ice-house to satisfy the 


owner's curiosity, and on two occasions in very bad drifting 
weather we were compelled to give shelter to a wanderer who 
had gone astray. 

When this ice-honse was ready and hourly observations began 
in it, life on board took the stamp which it afterwards retained 
in the course of the winter. In order to give the reader an idea 
of our every-day life, I shall reproduce here the spirited sketch 
of a day on the Vega, which Dr. Kjellman gave in one of his 
home letters : — 

" It is about half-past eight in the morning. He wdiose watch 
has expired has returned after five hours' stay in the ice-house, 
where the temperature during the night has been about -16°. 
His account of the weather is good enough. There are only 
thirty-two degrees of cold, it is half-clear, and, to be out of the 
ordinary, there is no wind. Breakfast is over. Cigars, cigarettes, 
and pipes are lighted, and the gunroom ])crsonnel go up on deck . 
for a little exercise and fresh air, for below it is confined and 
close. The eye rests on the desolate, still faintly-lighted land- 
scape, which is exactly the same as it was yesterday ; a white 
plain in all directions, across which a low, likewise white, chain 
of hillocks or torosses here and there raises itself, and over which 
some ravens, with feeble wing-strokes, fly forward, searching for 
something to support life with. ' Metschinko Orpist,' ' mets- 
chinko Okerpist,' ' metschinko Kellman,' &c., now sounds every- 
where on the vessel and from the ice in its neighbourhood. 
' Orpist ' represents Nordquist, ' Okerpist ' again Stuxberg. It is 
the Chukches' morning salutation to us. To-day the com- 
paratively fine weather has drawn out a larger crowd than usual, 
thirty to forty hixman beings, from tender sucking babes to grey 
old folks, men as well as women ; the latter in the word of 
salutation replacing the tsch-sound with an exceedingly soft 
caressinof ^s-sound. That most of them have come drivinsj is 
shown by the equipages standing in the neighbourhood of the 
vessel. They consist of small, low, narrow, light sledges, drawn 
by four to ten or twelve dogs. The sledges are made of small 
pieces of wood and bits of reindeer-horn, held together by seal- 
skin straps. As runner-shoes thin plates of the ribs of the 
whale are used. The dogs, sharp-nosed, long-backed, and exces- 
sively dirty, have laid themselves to rest, curled together in 
the snow. 

" The salutation is followed almost immediately to-day as 
oT\ preceding days by some other words : ' Ouinga mouri kauka,' 
which may be translated thus: 'I am so hungry; I have no 
food ; give me a little bread ! ' They suffer hunger now, the 
poor beings. Seal flesh, their main food, they cannot with the 
best will procure for the time. The only food they can get 

c c 2 

388 THE VOYAGE OF THE VEGA. [ciiAr. x. 

consists of fish (two kinds of cod), but this is quite too poor diet 
for them, they have fallen off since we first met with them, 

" Soon we are all surrounded by our Chukch acquaintances. 
The daily market begins. They have various things to offer, 
which they know to be of value to us, as weapons, furs, ornaments, 
playthings, fish, bones of the whale, algae, vegetables, &c. For 
all this only ' kauka ' is now asked. To-day the supply of 
whales' bones is large, in consequence of our desire, expressed 
on previous days, to obtain them. One has come with two 
vertebrtB, one with a rib or some fragments of it, one with 
a shoulder-blade. They are not shy in laying heavy loads on 
their dogs. 

" After the close of the promenade and the traffic with the 
natives, the gunroom po^sonnel have begun their labours. Some 
keep in their cabins, others in the gunroom itself. The magnetical 
and meteorological observations made the day before are tran- 
scribed and subjected to a preliminary working-out, the natural 
history collections are examined and looked over, studies and 
authorship are prosecuted. The work is now and then inter- 
rupted by conversation partly serious, partly jocular. From the 
engine-room in the neighbourhood we hear the blows of ham- 
mers and the rasping of files. In the 'tweendecks, pretty well 
heated, but not very well lighted, some of the crew are employed 
at ordinary ship's work ; and in the region of the kitchen the 
cook is just in the midst of his preparations for dinner. He 
is in good humour as usual, but perhaps grumbles a little at the 
'mosucks' (a common name on board for the Chukches), who will 
not give him any peace by their continual cries for ' mimil ' (water) . 

" The forenoon passes in all quietness and stillness. Immediately 
after noon nearly all the gunroom people are again on deck, 
promenading backwards and forwards. It is now very lively. 
It is the crew's meal-time. The whole crowd of Chukches are 
collected at the descent to their apartment, the lower deck. 
One soup basin after the other comes up ; they are immediately 
emptied of their contents by those who in the crowd and 
confusion are fortunate enough to get at them. Bread and 
pieces of meat and bits of sugar are distributed assiduously, 
and disappear with equal speed. Finally, the cook himself 
appears with a large kettle, containing a very large quantity 
of meat soup, which the Chukches like starving animals throw 
themselves upon, baling into them with spoons, empty pre- 
serve tins, and above all with the hands. Notwithstanding 
the exceedingly severe cold a woman here and there has un- 
covered one arm and half her breast in order not to be embarrassed 
by the wide reindeer-skin sleeve in her attempts to get at 
the contents of the kettle. The spectacle is by no means a 
pleasant one. 


" By three o'clock it begins to grow dark, and one after the 
other of our guests depart, to return, the most of them, in the 
morning. Now it is quiet and still. About six the crew have 
finished their labours and dispose of the rest of the day as they 
please. Most of them are occupied with reading during the 
evening hours. When supper has been served at half-past seven 
in the gunroom, he who has the watch in the ice-house from 
nine to two next morning prepares for the performance of his 
disagreeable duty ; the rest of the gunroom personnel are 
assembled there, and pass the evening in conversation, play, 
light reading, &c. At ten every one retires, and the lamps are 
extinguished. In many cabins, however, lights burn till after 

" Such was in general our life on the Vega. One day was very 
like another. When the storm howled, the snow drifted, and the 
cold became too severe, we kept more below deck ; when the 
weather was finer we lived more in the open air, often paying- 
visits to the observatory in the icehouse, and among the Chukches 
living in the neighbourhood, or wandering about to come upon, 
if possible, some game." 

The snow which fell during winter consisted more generally 
of small simple snow-crystals or ice-needles, than of the 
beautiful snow-flakes whose grand kaleidoscopic forms the 
inhabitants of the north so often have an opportvmity of 
admiring. Already with a gentle wind and with a pretty clear 
atmosphere the lower strata of the atmosphere were full of these 
regular ice-needles, which refracted the rays of the sun, so as to 
produce parhelia and halos. Unfortunately however these were 
never so completely develojDed as the halos which I saw in 1873 
during the sledge-journey round North-east Land on Spitzbergen ; 
but I believed that even now I could confirm the correctness of 
the observation I then made, that the representation which is 
generally given of this beautiful phenomenon, in which the halu 
is delineated as a collection of regular circles, is not correct, 
but that it forms a very involved system of lines, extended 
over the whole vault of heaven, for the most part coloured on 
the sun-side and uncoloured on the opposite side, of the sort 
shown in the accomj^anying drawings taken from the account of 
the Spitzbergen Expedition of 1872-73. 

Another very beautiful phenomenon, produced by the refrac- 
tion of the solar rays by the ice-needles, which during winter 
were constantly mixed with the atmospheric strata lying 
nearest the surface of the earth, was that the mountain 
heights to the south of the Vega in a certain light appeared 
as if feathered with fire-clouds. In clear sunshine and a high 
wind we frequently saw, as it were, a glowing pillar of vapour 


arise obliquely from the summits of the mountains, giving them 
the appearance of volcanos, which throw out enormous columns 
of smoke, flame-coloured by the reflection from the glowing 
lava streams in the depths of the crater, 

A blue water-sky was still visible out to sea, indicating that 
open water was to be found there. I therefore sent Johnsen the 
hunter over the ice on the 18th December to see how it was. 
In three-quarters of an hour's walking from the vessel he found 
an extensive opening, recently covered with thin, blue, newly 
frozen ice. A fresh northerly breeze blew at the time, and by it 
the drift-ice fields were forced together with such speed, that 



Seen on Spitzbeigen in May 1673, siimiltaTieously with the Reflection-halo delineated on the 

following page. 

Johnsen supposed that in a couple of hours the whole lead 
would be completely closed. 

In such openings in Greenland white whales and other small 
Avhales are often enclosed by hundreds, the natives thus having 
an opportunity of making in a few hours a catch which would 
be sufficient for their support during the whole winter, indeed 
for years, if the idea of sating ever entered into the imagination 
of the savage. But here in a region where the pursuit of the 
whale is more productive than in any other sea, no such occur- 
rence has happened. During the whole of our stay on the coast 
of the Chukch country we did not see a single whale. On the 

392 THE VOYAGE OF THE VEGA. [oiiap. 

other hand, masses of whales' bones were found thrown up on 
the beach. At first I did not bestow much attention upon 
them, thinking they were the bones of whales that had been 
killed during the recent whale -fishing period. I soon found 
however that this could not have been the case. For the bones 
had evidently been washed out of the sandy dune running along 
the beach, which had been deposited at a time when the present 
coast lay ten to twenty metres below the surface of the sea, 
thus hundreds or thousands of years ago, undoubtedly before the 
time when the north coast of Asia was first inhabited by man. 
The dune sand is, as recently exposed profiles show, quite free 
from other kitchen-midden remains than those which occur 


Seen simu'tanecmsly with the Refraction-halo delineated on the preceding page, in tlie part 
of the sky opposite the sun. 

upon its surface. The whales' bones in question were thus 
subfossiL Their number was so great, that in the systematic 
examination of the beach in the immediate neighbourhood of 
the vessel, which I undertook during spring with the assistance 
of Dr. Kjellman and half a dozen of the sailors, thirty neck- 
bones and innumerable other bones of the whale were found in 
a stretch of from four to five kilometres. Of course masses of 
bones are still concealed in the sand ; and a large number of 
lower jaw-bones, ribs, shoulder-blades, and vertebrae had been 
used for runner-shoes, tent-frames, spades, picks and other 
imjjlements. A portion, after being exposed for several years to 

X.] CHRISTMAS, 1878. 393 

the action of the air, had undergone decay. The bones are there- 
fore found in greatest number at those places where the sand of 
tlie dune has been recently carried away by the spring floods or 
by the furious winds which prevail here, and which easily gain 
the ascendency over the dry sand, bound together only by 
widely scattered Elymus-stalks. The largest crania belonged to 
a species nearly allied to the Balcena mysticetus. Crania of a 
species of Rachianectes are also found along with some bones of 
smaller varieties of the whale. No complete skeleton however 
has been found, but we brought home with us so large a quantity 
of the loose bones that the collection of whales' bones alone 
would have formed a full cargo for a small vessel. These bones 
will be delineated and described by Professor. A. W. Malm in 
The Scientific Work of the Vega Expedition. Special attention 
was drawn to a skeleton, belonging to the Balcnvi mysticetus, by 
its being still partially covered with skin, and by deep red, 
almost fresh, flesh adhering to those parts of it which were 
frozen fast in the ground. This skeleton lay at a place where 
the dune sand had recently been washed away and the coarse 


1. Hard frozen coarse sai:d. 2. Tlie sea. 3. Beach of fine dry sand with masses of bones of the 
wliale. i'. Coast-lagoon. 

underlying sand uncovered, the \A\QXQ-mummy also I suppose 
coming to light at the same time. That the whale in question 
had not stranded in the memory of man the Chukches assured 
me unanimously. In such a case we have here a proof that 
even portions of the flesh of gigantic sea-animals have been 
protected against putrefaction in the frozen soil of Siberia — a 
parallel to the mammoth-7?iM7?i«iics, though from a considerably 
more recent period. 

Christmas Eve was celebrated in the usual northern fashion. 
We had indeed neglected, as in the Expedition of 1872-73, to 
take with us any Christmas tree. But instead of it Dr. Kjellman 
prevailed on our Chukch friends to bring with dog-sledges 
willow-bushes from the valleys lying beyond the mountains to 
the south. By means of these a bare driftwood stem was 
converted into a luxuriant, branchy tree which, to replace the 
verdure, was clothed with variegated strips of paper, and planted 
in the 'tweendecks, which after our enclosure in the ice had 
been arranged as a working room, and was now set in order for 


the Christmas festivities, and richly and tastefully ornamented 
with flaos. A laro;e number of small wax-licrhts, which we had 
brought with us for the special purpose, were fixed in the 
Christmas tree, together with about two hundred Christmas 
boxes purchased or presented to us before our departure. At 
six o'clock in the afternoon all the officers and crew assembled 
in the 'tweendecks, and the drawing of lots began, now and then 
interrupted by a thundering polka round the peculiar Christmas 
tree. At supper neither Christmas ale nor ham was wanting. 
And later in the evening there made their appearance in the 
'tweendecks five punchbowls, which were emptied with songs 
and toasts for King and Fatherland, for the objects of the 
Expedition, for its officers and men, for the families at home, for 
relatives and friends, and finally for those who decked and 
arranged the Christmas tree, who were the sailors C. Lundgren 
and O. Hansson, and the firemen O. Ingelsson and C. Carlstrom. 
The other festivals were also celebrated in the best way, and 
at midnight before New Year's Day the new year was shot in 
with sharp explosive-shell firing from the rifled cannon of the 
J^cga, and a number of rockets thrown up from the deck. 


Hope of release at the new year — Bove's excursion to the open water — 
Mild weather and renewed severe cold — Mercury frozen — Popular 
lectures — Bnisewitz's excursion to Najtskaj — Another desjsatch of letters 
home — The natives' accounts of the state of the ice on the coast of 
Chukch Land— The Chukches carry on traffic between Arctic America 
and Siberia — Excursions in the neighbourhood of winter quarters — The 
weather during spring — The melting of the snow — The aurora — The 
arrival of the migratory birds — The animal world of Chukch Land 
— Noah Elisej's relief expedition — A remarkable fish — -The country 
clear of snow — Eelease — The North-East Passage achieved. 

The new year came in with a faint hope of release. For since 
the north and north-west winds that had prevailed almost con- 
stantly towards the close of December had given place to winds 
from the east and south, considerable " clearing-s " were again 
Jurmed out at sea, and the Chukches again began to say that 
the ice would drift away, so that the vessel would be able 
to continue her voyage ; a prediction which they always ended 
with a declaration, expressed both by words and gestures, that 
they would then bitterly lament, which they would also have 
had sufficient reason to do, C(jnsidering the very friendly way in 
which they were treated by all on board the Vc^a, both officers 
and men. 


On New Year's Day, in order to see the state of the ice farther 
out to sea, Lieut. Bove, accompanied by the hunter Johnsen, 
again made an excursion to the open water. Of this he gave 
the following account : — 

" I left the vessel on the forenoon of 1st January and reached 
the open water after four hours' steady walking. The deep 
loose snow made walking very fatiguing, and three rows of 
torosses also contributed to this, mainly in consequence of the 
often snow-covered cracks, which crossed the ice-sheet in their 
neighbourhood. One of the torosses was ten metres high. The 
size of the blocks of ice, which were here heaped on each other, 
showed how powerful the forces were which had caused the 
formation of the torosses. These ice ramparts now afford a 
much needed protection to the Vegas winter haven. About 
halfway between the open water and the vessel the way was 
crossed by cracks running from east to west, and clearly indi- 
cating that the opening in the ice would have extended to the 
distance of a kilometre from the vessel, if the violent storm in 
December had lasted twelve hours longer. The Vega would 
thereby have been in great danger. The edge of the ice towards 
the oj)en water was evenly cut, as with an immense knife, and 
was so strong that one could walk along it as on a rock. Even 
from the top of a five-metre-high ice-rampart no boundary of 
the open water could be seen to the north-east or north. Partly 
from this, partly from the extension of the water-sky in this 
direction, I draw the conclusion that the breadth of the open 
water was at least thirty-five kilometres. The " clearing " was 
bounded on the east by an ice-rampart running north, which at 
a distance of nine or ten kilometres appeared to bend to the 
east. Possibly farther to the east beyond this ice-rampart there 
was another open water basin. The depth at the edge of the 
ice was twenty-one metres, the temperature of the water 2" C 
The water ran at a considerable speed right out from the 
coast (i.e. from S.S.E.). As it ran here nearly in a straight 
line, the current may have been a tidal one. The open 
water swarmed with seals, according' to Johnsen both bearded 
and rough. Neither Polar bears, walnisses, nor birds were 

Lieut. Bove's report confirmed me in my supposition that the 
open water, as towards the end of January 1873 at Mussel Bay, 
might possibly extend as far as our anchorage and open for us 
the way to Behring's Straits, in which case we could not refrain 
from continuing our voyage, however unpleasant and dangerous 
it might be at this season of the year. The Chukches also 
declared repeatedly that the open water in January would 


continue for a considerable time, and in expectation of this got 
their simple tishing implements ready. But both they and we 
were disappointed in our expectation. The Vegas ice-fetters 
remained undisturbed, and the blue border at the horizon grew 
less and again disappeared. This caused so great a want of 
food, and above all of train oil, among the natives, that all the 
inhabitants of Pitlekaj, the village nearest to us, were compelled 
to remove to the eastward, n(jtwith standing that in order to 
mitigate the scarcity a considerable quantity of food was served 
out daily at the vessel. 

It appears, however, as if an actual experience from the pre- 
ceding year had been the ground of the Chiikches' weather 


prediction. For on the 6th February a south-east wind began 
to blow, and the severe cold at once ceased. The temperature 
rose for a few hours to and even above the freezing-point. A 
water-sky was again formed along the horizon of the ice from 
north-east to north, and from the heights at the coast there was 
seen an extensive opening in the ice-fields, which a little east 
of Irgunnuk nearly reached the shore. Some kilometres farther 
east even the shore itself was free of ice, and from tlie hills our 
sailors thought they saw a heavy sea in the blue water bordei 
which bounded the circle of vision. Tf this was not an illusion 
caused by the unequal heating and oscillatory motion of the 
lower stratum of the atmosphere, the open water may have been 
of great extent. Perliaps the statement of the natives was 


correct, that it extended as far as Behring's Straits. But we 
could not now place complete reliance on their statements, since 
we had rewarded with extra treating some predictions, relating 
to ice and weather, that were favourable to us. Even between 
the vessel's anchorage and the land various cracks had been 
formed, through which the sea water had forced its way under 
the snow, and in which some of us got cold foot or leg baths 
during our walks to and from the land. 

The Chukches at Irgunnuk were now successful in killincr a 
Polar bear and seventy seals, of which some were ostentatiously 
set up in rows, along with frozen slices of blubber, along the 
outer walls of the tents, and others were laid doAvn in the 
blubber cellars, which were soon filled to overflowing. At 




(After a drawing by O. Nordquist.) 

Yinretlen, the encampment nearer us, the hunters on the other 
liand had obtained only eight seals. Gladness and want of care 
f )r the morrow at all events prevailed here also, and our skin- 
clad friends availed themselves of the opportunity to exhibit a 
self-satisfied disdain of the simple provisions from the Vegrf. 
which the day before they had begged for with gestures so pitiful, 
and on which they must, in a day or two, again depend. The 
children, who had fallen off during recent weeks, if not in com- 
parison with European children, at least with well-fed Cluikch 
ones, began speedily to regain their former condition, and likewise 
the older people. Begging ceased for some days, but the vessel's 
deck still formed a favourite rendezvous for crowds of men. 


women, and children. Many passed here the greater part of 
the day, cheerful and gay in a temperature of —40° C, gossiped, 
helped a little, but always only a little, at the work on board, 
and so on. The mild weather, the prospect of our getting free, 
and of an abundant fishing for the Chukches, however, soon 
ceased. The temperature again sank below the freezing-point, 
that is of mercury, and the sea froze so far out from the shore 
that the Chukches could no longer carry on any fishing. Instead 
we saw them one morning come marching, like prisoners on an 
Egyptian or Assyrian monument, in goose-march over the ice 
toward the vessel, each with a burden on his shoulder, of whose 
true nature, while they were at a distance, we endeavoured in 
vain to form a guess. It was pieces of ice, not particularly 
large, which they, self-satisfied, cheerful and happy at their new 
hit, handed over to the cook to get from him in return some of 
the kaulri (food) they some days before had despised. 

The first time the temperature of the air sank under the 
freezing-point of mercury, was in January. It now became 
necessary to use instead of the mercury the spirit thermometers, 
which in expectation of the severe cold had been long ago hung 
up in the thermometer case. When mercury freezes in a 
common thermometer, it contracts so much that the column of 
mercury suddenly sinks in the tube, or if it is short, goes wholly 
into the ball. The position of the column is therefore no 
measure of the actual degree of cold when the freezing takes 
place. The reading of —89°, or even of —150°, which at a 
time when it was not yet known that mercury could at a low 
temperature assume the solid furm, was made on a mercurial 
thermometer in the north of Sweden,^ and which at the time 
occasioned various discussions and doubts as to the trustworthi- 
ness of the observer, was certainly quite correct, and may be 
repeated at any time by cooling mercury under its freezing-point 
in a thermometer of sufficient length divided into degrees under 
0°. The freezing of mercury - takes place from below upwards, 

1 And. Hellant, Arnndrhninrjar om en lielt ovanliq hold i Tome {Remarks 
on a Quite Unusual Cold in Tome), Vet.akad. Handl. 1759, p. 314, and 
1760, p. 312. In the latter paper Hellant himself sho\vs that the oolimin 
of mercury in a strongly cooled thermometer for a few moments sinks 
farther when the ball is rapidly heated. This is caused by the expansion 
of the glass when it is warmed before the heat has had time to com- 
municate itself to the quicksilver in the ball, and therefore of course can 
happen only at a temperature above the freezing-point of mercury. 

^ That mercury solidifies in cold was discovered by some academicians 
in St. Petersburg on the 25th December, 1759, and caused at the time a 
great sensation, because by tliis discovery various erroneous ideas were 
rooted out which the chemists had inherited from the alchemists, and 
which were based on the supposed property of mercury of being at the 
same time a metal and a fluid. 


the frozen metal as being heavier sinking down in that] portion 
which is still fluid. If when it is half frozen the fluid be poured 
away from the frozen portion, we obtain groups of crystals, 
composed of small octohedrons, grouped together by the edges 
of the cube. None of our mercurial thermometers suffered any 
damage, nor was there any alteration of the position of the 
freezing-point in them from the mercury having frozen in them 
and again become fluid. 

During the severe cold the ice naturally became thicker and 
thicker; and by the continual northerly winds still higher 
torosscs were heaped up round the vessel, and larger and larger 
snow masses were collected between it and the land, and on the 
heights along the coast. All hopes or fears of an early release 
were again given up, and a perceptible dullness began to make 
itself felt after the bustle and festivities of the Christmas 
holidays. Instead there was now arranged a series of popular 
lectures which were held in the lower deck, and treated of the 
history of the North-East Passage, the first circumnavigations of 
the globe, the Austrian-Hungarian Expedition, the changes of 
the earth's surface, the origin of man, the importance of the 
leaf to the plants, &c. It became both for the officers and 
scientific men and the crew a little interruption to the monotony 
of the Arctic winter life, and the lecturer could always be certain 
of finding his little auditory all present and highly interested. 
Some slight attempts at musical evening entertainments were 
also made, but these failed for want of musical instruments and 
musical gifts among the Vega men. We had among us no 
suitable director of theatrical representations after the English- 
Arctic pattern, and even if we had had, I fear that the director 
would have found it very difficult to gather together the 
dramatic talents requisite for his entertainment. 

On the 17th February Lieutenant Brusewitz made an 
excursion to Najtskaj, of which he gives the following 
account : — 

" I and Notti left the vessel in the afternoon, and after two 
hours came to Rirajtinop, Notti's home ; where we passed the 
night, together with his three younger brothers and an invalid 
sister, who all lived in the same tent-chamber. Immediately 
after our arrival one of the brothers began to get the dog-harness 
and sleigh ready for the following day's journey, while the rest 
of us went into the interior of the tent, where the invalid sister 
lay with her clothes off, but wrapt in reindeer skins. She took 
charge of two train-oil lamps, over which hung two cooking 
vessels, one formerly a preserve tin, and the other a bucket of 
tinned iron. One of the brothers came in with a tray, on 
which was placed a piece of seal blubber, together with frozen 


vegetables, principally willow leaves. The blubber was cut into 
small square pieces about the size of the thumb, after which 
one 01 the brothers gave the sister a large portion both of the 
blubber and vegetables. The food was then served out to 
the others. Every piece of blubber was carefully imbedded in 
vegetables before it was eaten. When the vegetables were 
famshed there was still some blubber, which was given to the 
dogs that lay in the outer tent. After this the boiled spare-ribs 
ol a seal were partaken of, and finally a sort of soup, probably 
made from seal s blood. The sister had a first and special help- 
ing ot these dishes. I also got an offer of every dish, and it did 
not appear to cause any offence that I did not acceijt the offer 
Alter the close of the meal the cooking vessels were set down 



•■(After photographs by L. Palander. 

the "pesks taken off, and some reindeer skins taken down 
from the roof and spread out. The older brothers lighted their 
pipes, and the younger lay down to sleep. I was shown to one 
of the side places m the tent, evidently Notti's own. One of the 
lamps was extinguished, after which all slept. During the nicrht 
the girl complained several times, when one of the broth'ers 
alAvays rose and attended to her. At six in the mornincr I 
wakened the party and reminded them of our journev ^All 
rose immediately. Dressing proceeded slowly, because much 
attention was given to the foot covering. No food was produced 
but all ajipeared quite pleased when I gave them of my stock' 
which consisted of bread and some preserved beef-steaks. Imme- 
diately after breakfast four dogs were harnessed to the sleigh, with 

I) D 


which Notti and I continued our journey to Najtskaj, I riding 
and he running alongside the sleigh. At Irgunnuk, a Chukch 
village about an English mile east of Rirajtinop, a short 
stay was made in order to try to borrow some dogs, but without 
success. We continued our journey along the shore, and at 
10 o'clock A.M. arrived atNajtskaj, which is from fifteen to eigh- 
teen kilometres E.S.E. from Irgunnuk. Here we were received 
by most of our former neighbours, the inhabitants of Pitlekaj. 
Of the thirteen tents of the village the "five western- 
most were occupied by the former population of Pitlekaj, 
while the eight lying more to the eastward were inhabited by 
other Chukches. The Pitlekaj people had not pitched their 
common large tents, but such as were of inconsiderable size or 
small ones fastened close together. In all the tents here, as at 
Rirajtinop and Irgunnuk, there was much blubber laid up ; we 
saw pieces of seal and whole seals piled up before the tents, 
and on the way to Najtskaj we met several sledges loaded with 
seals, on their way to Pidlin. At Najtskaj I went out hunting 
accompanied by a Chukch. We started eight hares, but did 
not succeed in getting within range of them. A red fox was 
seen at a great distance but neither ptarmigan nor traces of 
them could be discovered. At two in the afternoon I returned 
to Irgunnuk and there got another sleigh drawn by ten dogs, 
with which I soon reached the vessel." 

On the 20th February three large Chukch sledges laden with 
goods and drawn by sixteen to twenty dogs stopped at the Vega. 
They said they came from the eastward, and were on 
their way to the market in the neighbourhood of Nischni 
Kolymsk. I again by way of experiment sent with them home- 
letters, for which, as they declined to take money, I gave them as 
postage three bottles of rum and abundant entertainment for 
men and dogs. In consideration of this payment they bound 
themselves faithfully to execute their commission and promised 
to return in May. And they kept their word. For on the 8th 
and 9th May a large number of sledges heavily laden with rein- 
deer skins and drawn by many dogs, passed along the coast from 
west to east. Of course all rested at the Vega, the only house 
of entertainment on the coast of the Asiatic Polar Sea, consider- 
ing it as a matter of indisputable right, that they should in 
return for a little talk and gossip obtain food and " ram." Very 
eagerly they now informed us that a letter would come with 
another dog train that might be expected in a few hours. This 
was for us a very great piece of news, the importance of which 
none can understand who has never hungered for months for 
news from home, from the home-land and the home-world. 
Eager to know if we had actually to expect a post from Europe, 


we asked them how large the packet was. " Very large " was 
the answer, and the " ram " was of course measured accordingly. 
But when at last the letter came it was found to be only an 
exceedingly short note from some of the Russian officials at 
Kolyma, informing me that our letters had reached him on the 
"^Fdifsch ^^^ ^^^'^ been immediately sent by express to Yakutsk. 
Thence they were sent on by post, reaching Irkutsk on the f4th 
May, and Sweden on the 2nd August. 

During autumn and midwinter the sunshine was not of 
course strong and continuous enough to be painful to the eyes, 
but in February the light from the snow-clouds and the snow- 
drifts began to be troublesome enough. On the 22nd February 
accordingly snow-spectacles were distributed to all the men, an 
indispensable precaution, as I have before stated, in Arctic 
journeys. Many of the Chukches were also attacked with snow- 
blindness somewhat later in the season, and were very desirous 
of obtaining from us blue-coloured spectacles. Johnsen even 
stated that one of the hares he shot was evidently snow-blind. 

On the evening of the 22nd February there burst upon us 
a storm with drifting snow and a cold of —36°. To be out in 
such weather is not good even for a Chukch dog. Of this we 
had confirmation the next day, when a Chukch who had lost his 
way came on board, carrying a dog, frozen stiff, by the backbone, 
like a dead hare. He had with his dog gone astray on the ice 
and lain out, without eating anything, in a snow-drift for the 
night. The master himself had suffered nothing, he was only 
hungry, the dog on the other hand scarcely showed any sign of 
life. Both were naturally treated on board the Vega with great 
commiseration and kindness. They were taken to the 'tween- 
decks, where neither Chukches nor Chukch dogs were otherwise 
admitted ; for the man an abundant meal was served of what we 
believed he would relish best, and he was then allowed, pro- 
bably for the first time in his life, to sleep if not under a sooty, 
at least under a wooden roof. The dog was for hours carefully 
subjected to massage, with the result that he came to life again, 
which struck us, and, as it appeared, not least the Chukch 
himself, as something wonderful. 

In the beginning of March there passed us a large number of 
sledges laden with reindeer skins, and drawn by eight to ten 
dogs each. Every sledge had a driver, and as usual the women 
took no part in the journey. These trains were on a commercial 
journey from Irkaipij to Pak at Behring's Straits. We found 
among the foremen many of our acquaintances from the preced- 
ing autumn, and I need not say that this gave occasion to a 
special entertainment, for the people, bread, a little spirits, soup, 
some sugar, and tobacco, for the dogs, pemmican. Conversation 
during such visits became very lively, and went on with little 

D D 2 


hindrance, since two of us were now somewhat at home in the 
Chukch language. For if I except two men, Menka and Noah 
Elisej, who could talk exceedingly defective Russian, there was 
not one of the reindeer or dog-foremen travelling past who could 
speak any European language, and notwithstanding this they 
all carry on an active commerce with the Russians. But the 
Chukch is proud enough to require that his own language shall 
prevail in all international commerce in the north-east of Asia, 
and his neighbours find their advantage in this. 

During the course of the winter, Lieutenant Nordquist 
collected from the Chukch foremen coming from a distance who 
travelled past, information regarding the state of the ice between 
Chaun Bay and Behring's Straits at different seasons of the year. 
Considering the immense importance of the question, even in 
a purely practical point of view, I shall quote verbatim the 
statements which he thus collected. 

Statements regarding the state of the ice on the coast hetioeen 
Ca^Je Yahan and Behring's Straits hy Chuhches living there. 

"1. A Chukch from Yekanenmitschikan, near Cape Yakan, 
said that it is usual for open water to be there the whole 

" 2. A Chukch from Kinmankau, which lies a little to the west 
of Cape Yakan, said the same. 

" 3. A Chukch from Yakan stated that the sea there becomes 
free of ice in the end of May or beginning of June. On the 
other hand it is never open in winter. 

" 4. Tatan from Yakan stated that the sea there is open from 
the end of May or beginning of June to the latter part of 
September or beginning of October, when the ice begins to drift 
towards the land. 

" 5. Rikkion from Vankarema said that the sea there is covered 
with ice in winter, but open in summer. 

" 6. A reindeer Chukch, Rotschitlen, who lives about twelve 
English miles from the Vega's winter quarters, said that 
Kolyutschin Bay, by the Chukches called Pidlin, is clear of ice 
the whole summer. 

" 7. Urtridlin from Kolyutschin said that neither at that island 
nor in Kolyutschin Bay is there any ice in summer. 

" 8. Ranau, from Yinretlen, also said that Kolyutschin Bay is 
always open in summer. 

" 9. Ettiu, from the village Nettej, between Irgunnuk and 
Behring's Straits, stated that the sea at Nettej is open in 
summer, independently of the wind, in winter only when the 
wind is southerly. 

"10. Vankatte, from Nettej, stated that the sea there becomes 
open during the month " Tautinyadlin," that is, the latter part 


of May and the 'beginning of June, and is again covered with 
ice during the month " Kutscshkau," or October and November, 

"11. Kepljeplja, from the village Irgunnuk, lying five English 
miles east of the Vegas winter quarters at Pitlekaj, said that 
the sea off these villages is open all summer, except when 
northerly winds prevail. On the other hand, he said that 
farther westward, as at Irkaipij, ice could nearly always be seen 
from the land. 

" 12. Kapatljin, from Kingetschkun, a village between Irgun- 
nuk and Behring's Straits, stated on the 11th January that 
there was then open water at that village. He said further, 
that Behring's Straits in winter are filled with ice when the 
wind is southerly, but open when the wind is northerly. The 
same day a Chukch from Nettej-Kengitschkau, also between 
Irgunnuk and Behring's Straits, stated that ice then lay off 
that village. He confirmed Kapatljin's statement regarding 
Behring's Straits. 

" 13. Kvano, from Uedlje, near Behring's Straits, said that 
there the sea is always open from May to the end of 

On the 13th March we came to know that spirits, too, form 
an article of commerce here. For, without having obtained any 
liquor from the Vega, the Chukches at Yinretlen had the means 
of indulging in a general fuddle, and that even their friendly 
disposition gives way under the effects of the intoxication we 
had a manifest proof, when the day after they came on board 
with blue and yellow eyes, not a little seedy and ashamed. In 
autumn a tall and stout Chukch giantess, who then paid us 
a visit, informed us that her husband had been murdered in a 
drunken quarrel. 

Sledges of considerable size, drawn by reindeer, began after 
the middle of March to pass the Vega in pretty large numbers. 
They were laden with reindeer skins and goods bought at the 
Russian market-places, and intended for barter at Behring's 

The reindeer Chukches are better clothed, and appear to be 
in better circumstances and more independent than the coast 
Chukches, or, as they ought to be called in correspondence with 
the former name, the dog Chukches. As every one owns a 
reindeer herd, all must follow the nomad mode of living, but at 
the same time they carry on traffic between the savages in the 
northernmost parts of America and the Russian fur-dealers in 
Siberia, and many pass their whole lives in commercial journeys. 
The principal market is held annually during the month of 
March, on an island in the river Little Anjui, 250 versts from 
Nischni Kolymsk. The barter goes on in accordance with a 


normal price-list, mutually agreed upon by the Russian mer 
chants and the oldest of the Chukches. The market is in- 
augurated on the part of the Russians by a mass performed by 
the priest/ who always accompanies the Russian crown com- 
missioner, and in the Chukches' camp with buffoonery by one of 
the Chukch Shamans. At such a market there is said to be 
considerable confusion, to judge by the spirited description which 
Wrangel gives of it (Reise, i. p. 269). We ought, however, to 
remember that this description refers to the customs that pre- 
vailed sixty years ago. Now, perhaps, there is a great change 
there. In the commercial relations in north-eastern Asia in the 
beginning of this century, we have probably a faithful picture 
of the commerce of the Beormas in former days in north- 
eastern Europe. Even the goods were probably of the same 
sort at both places, perhaps, also, the stand-points of the culture 
of the two races. 

Besides the traders, a large number of Chukches from Kol- 
yutschin Island and other villages to the west, travelled past us 
with empty sledges, to which were harnessed only a few dogs. 
They returned in the course of a few days with their sledges 
fully laden with fish which they said they had caught in a 
lagoon situated to the eastward. They also sometimes sold a 
delicious variety of the Coregonus taken in a lake in the 
interior some distance from the coast. 

Further on in winter a number of excursions were under- 
taken in different directions, partly to find out these fishing 
places, partly to get an idea of the mode of life of the reindeer 
Chukches. I, however, never ventured to give permission for 
any long absence from the vessel, because I was quite convinced 
that the sea round the Vega after a few days' constant southerly 
storm might become open under circumstances which would not 

^ During the market the Russian priest endeavours to make proselytes ; 
he succeeds, too, by distributing tobacco to induce one or two to subject 
themselves to tlie ceremony of baptism. No true conversion, liowever, 
can scarcely come in question on account of the difference of language. 
As an example of how this goes on, the following story of Wrangel's may 
be quoted. At the market a young Chukch had been prevailed upon, by a 
gift of some pounds of tobacco, to allow himself to be baptised. The cere- 
mony began in presence of a number of spectators. The new convert 
stood quiet and pretty decent in his place till he should step down into the 
baptismal font, a large wooden tub filled with ice-cold water. In this, 
according to the baptismal ritual, he ought to dip three times. But to 
this he would consent on no condition. He shook his head constantly, and 
brought forward a large number of reasons against it, which none under- 
stood. After long exhortations by the interpreter, in which promises of 
tobacco probably again played the principal part, he finally gave way and 
sprang courageously down into the ice-cold water, but immediately jumped 
up again trembling with cold, crying, " My tobacco! my tobacco!" All 
attempts to induce him to renew the bath were fruitless, the ceremony 
was incomplete, and the Chukch only half baptised. 




permit us to remain in the open road where we lay moored ; 
my comrades' desire to penetrate far into the Chukch jDeninsula 
could not on that account be satisfied. But short as these 
excursions were, they give us, however, much information re- 
garding our winter life, and our contact with the little-known 
tribe, on the coast of whose homeland the Vega had been beset, 
and on that account, perha23s, there may be reasons for making 
extracts from- some of the reports given in to me with reference 
to these journeys. 

TsAccMiau '^^exf ^ VEGA „ 


Mainlj' after G. Bove. 
1. Rotschitlen's tent. 2. Yettugin's tent. 

Palandcrs and Kjcllman's excursion to a reindeer ClivJcch camp 
south-ivest of PitUkaj, is sketched by the former thus : — 

"On the 17th March, 1879, accompanied by Dr. Kjellman, I 
went out with a sledge and five men, among them a native as 
guide, to the reindeer Chukch camp in the neighbourhood of 
TafFelberg (Table Mountain), with a view to obtain fresh rein- 
deer flesh. The expedition was fitted out with two days' pro- 
visions, tent, mattrasses, and iiesks. The reindeer Chukches were 
met with eleven English miles from the vessel. On an eminence 
here were found two tents, of which one at the time was unin- 
habited. The other was occupied by the Chukch, Rotschitlen, 

408 THP: voyage of the VEGA. [chap. 

his yoimg wife, and another young pair, the latter, if I under- 
stood theui right, being on a visit, and properly having their 
home at Irgunnuk. 

" Round the tent, which was considerably smaller than those we 
daily saw at the coast, lay a number of sledges piled up on one 
another. These sleds^es differed from the common docr-sleds^es 
in being considerably larger and wider in the gauge. The 
runners were clumsy and axed from large wood. 

" Our proposal to purchase reindeer was immediately declined, 
although we offered in exchange bread, tobacco, rum, and even 
guns. As a reason for this refusal they stated that the reindeer 
at this season of the year are too lean to be slaughtered. We 
saw about fifty reindeer pasturing on an eminence at a distance 
of several thousand feet from us. 

" In the afternoon Kjellman and I were invited into the tent, 
where we passed an hour in their sleeping chamber. On our 
entrance the lamp, which was filled with seal oil, was lighted ; 
a sort of moss (sphagnum) was used as a wick. Our hostess 
endeavoured to make our stay in the tent as agreeable 
as possible ; she rolled together reindeer skins for pillows 
and made ready for us a place where, stretched at full length, 
we might enjoy much needed repose. In the outer tent 
the other women prepared supper, which consisted of boiled 
seal's-flesh. We received a friendly invitation to share their 
meal, but as we had no taste for seal's-flesh, we declined their 
offer under the pretext that we had just had dinner. They 
took their meal lying with the body in the inner tent, but with 
the head under the reindeer-skin curtain in the outer, where the 
food w^as. After the meal was partaken of, their heads were 
drawn within the curtain; our host divested himself of all his 
clothes, the trousers excepted, which were allowed to remain. 
Our hostess let her fesk fall down from her shoulders, so that the 
whole upper part of the body thus became bare. The reindeer- 
skin boots were taken off, and turned outside in ; they were 
carefully dried and hung up in the roof over the lamp to dry 
during the night. We treated the women to some sugar, which, 
in consequence of their want of acquaintance with it, they at 
first examined with a certain caution, finding afterwards that it 
tasted exceeding well. After the meal our host appeared to 
become sleepy ; we accordingly said good-night, and went to our 
own tent, where it was quite otherwise than warm, the 
temperature during the night being about — 11° C. 

" After for the most part a sleepless night, we rose at half-past 
six next morning. Wlien we came out of the tent we saw all 
the reindeer advancing in a compact troop. At the head was an 
old reindeer with large horns, that went forward to his master, 
who had in the meantime gone to meet the herd, and bade him 


good-morning by gently rubbing his nose against his masters 
hands. While this was going on the other reindeer stood 
drawn up in well-ordered ranks, like the crew in divisions on 
board a man-of-war. The owner then went forward and saluted 
every reindeer ; they were allowed to stroke his hands with their 
noses. He on his part took every reindeer by the horn and 
examined it in the most careful way. After the inspection was 
ended at a sign given by the master the whole herd wheeled 
round and returned in closed ranks, with the old reindeer in 
front, to the previous day's pasture. 

" The whole scene made a very favourable impression on us ; it 
was not the grim hard savage showing in a coarse and barbarous 
way his superiority over the animals, but the good master 
treating his inferiors kindly, and having a friendly word for 
each of them. Here good relations prevailed between man and 
the animals. Rotschitlen himself was a stately young man, 
with an intelligent appearance and a supple handsome figure. 
His dress, of exceedingly good cut and of uncommonly fine 
reindeer skin, sat close to his well-grown frame, and gave us an 
opportunity of seeing his graceful and noble bearing, which was 
most observable when he was in motion. 

" On our repeating our proposal to purchase reindeer we again 
met with a refusal, on which we struck our tent and commenced 
our return journey. We came on board on the 18th March 
at 3 o'clock P.M., after a march of four hours and three- 

" The way to the reindeer camp rose and fell gently. The 
snow was hard and even, so that we could go forward rapidly. 
On the way out four foxes and some ravens were seen. At one 
place we found a large number of lemming passages excavated 
through the snow in an oblique direction towards the ground. 
Most of them were scratched up by foxes. The descent to an 
untouched lemming nest was cylindrical, and four and a half 
centimetres in diameter. During both days we had snow, and a 
thick and foggy atmosphere, so that we could see only a short 
distance before us ; we did not however go astray, thanks to the 
good eyes and strongly developed sense of locality of our guide, 
the native." 

Brusewitz's and Nordquist^s Excursion to Nutschoitjin. 

Of tliis Nordquist gives the following account : — 

" On the 20th March, at 9 o'clock A.M. Lieut. Brusewitz, 
boatswain Lustig, the Norwegian hunters Johnsen and Sievertsen, 
the Chukch Notti, and I, left the Vega. Our equipment, which 
consisted of provisions for eight days, cooking apparatus, canvas 
tent, india-rubber mattrasses, reindeer-skin jiesJcs, &c., we drew 


after us on a sledge. At 2.45 p.m. we came to Nutschoitjin 
(Coregonus Lake). During our journey we passed a river 
which flows between Nutschoitjin and the mountain Hotsch- 
keanranga about ten EngHsh miles south of this lake and falls 
into the great lagoon south of Pitlekaj. Farther into the 
interior this river, according; to Notti's statement, flows through 
several lakes : he also informed us that in summer it abounds 
very much in salmon {liennc). Some sandy hills formed the 
watershed between it and Nutschoitjin. The only animal we 
saw during our outward journey was a fox. On the other hand 
we found traces of hares, ptarmigan, and a couple of lemmings. 
After we had found a suitable camping-place, we began to build 
a snow-house, which, however, we could not get ready till 
next day. 

" On the 21st Brusewitz and I went out to view our nearest 
surroundings. On a hill north of the lake, where Potentilla, 
Carex, and Poa stuck up through the snow-covering, we saw a 
large number of traces of the fox, the hare, and the jitarmigan. 
We employed the 22nd in cutting some holes in the ice, which 
was about one and a half metres thick, and in setting a net. For 
I wished to ascertain what species of Coregonus it is which, 
according to Notti's statement, occurs in abundance in this lake. 
At the place where the net was set there was something more 
than a metre of water under the ice. The bottom consisted of 
mud. When we cut a hole in the middle of the lake in order to 
get deeper water we found that the ice, one and a half metres 
thick there, reached to the bottom. 

" Next morning we got in the net eleven Coregoni, of which 
the largest were about thirty-five centimetres long. Although 
the weather was grey and we could not see very far, we went the 
same day to the hill Hotschkeanranga ; partly to determine its 
height, and jDartly from its summit, which is visible for a great 
distance, to get a view of the appearance of the surrounding 
country. After crossing the river which flows between Nuts- 
choitjin and Hotchkeanranga, we began to ascend the long slope 
on whose summit Hotchkanrakenljeut (Hotchkeanranga's head) 
rises with steep sides above the surrounding country. Over the 
slope were scattered loose blocks of stone of an eruptive rock. 
The crest of "the head" was also closely covered with loose 
stones. On the north or wind side these stones were covered 
with a hard beaten crust of snow nearly two feet thick; on the 
south side most of them were bare. According to Brusewitz the 
southern slopes are still steejier than the northern. South of 
the hill he saw a large valley — probably a lake — through which 
flows the river which we crossed. 

" As on the outward journey I went with Notti, he advised me 
to offer a little food and brandy to the Spirit of the Lake, 


itjakcn kamdk, in order to get good net fishing. On my inquiring 
what aj)pearance he had, Notti rephed " uinga lilapen," " I have 
never seen him," Besides this spirit there are in his view others 
also in streams, in the earth, and in some mountains. The 
Chukches also sacrifice to the sun and moon. On the other 
hand they do not appear, as some other races, to pay any sort of 
worship to their departed friends. When I gave him a biscuit 
and bade him offer it, he made with the heel a little depression 
in the snow on Nutschoitjin, crumbled a little bit of the biscuit 
in pieces, and threw the crumbs into the hollow. The rest of 
the biscuit he gave back, declaring that kamak did not require 
more, and that we should now have more fish in the net than 
the first time. Notti said also that the Chukches are wont to 
sacrifice something for every catch. Thus have probably arisen 
all the collections of bear and seal skulls and reindeer horns, 
which we often saw on the Chukch coast, especially on 

" After we had read off the aneroid, we speedily made our way 
to the snow-house, because during the interval a violent storm of 
drifting snow had arisen, so that we could not see more than 
half a score of paces before us. On the slope below " the head " 
we had already on our way thither seen traces of two wild 
reindeer. Notti said that there are a few of them on the hill 
the whole winter. The greater number, however, draw farther 
southward, and approach the coast only during summer. Johnson 
had wounded an owl {Strix nydca), which however made its 
escape. On the 24th snow fell and drifted during the whole 
day, so that we could not go out to shoot. On the 25th we 
came on board again. 

"According to the aneroid observations made during the 
journey, the highest summit we visited had a height of 197 

Lieutenant Bove's Account of an Excursion to Najtskaj and 


" On the 19th April, at 4 o'clock A.M., the hunter Johnson 
and I started on a short excursion eastAvard along the coast, 
with a view to pay a visit to the much frequented fishing 
station Najtskaj, where our old friends from Pitlekaj had settled. 
We had a little sledge which we ourselves drew, and which was 
laden with provisions for three days and some meteorological 
and hydrographical instruments. 

" At 6 o'clock A.M. we reached Rirajtinop, where we found 
Notti, a serviceable, talented, and agreeable youth. The village 
Rirajtinop, which formerly consisted of a great many tents, now 
had only one tent, Notti's, and it was poor enough. It gave the 
inhabitants only a slight protection against wind and cold. 




Among household articles in the tent I noticed a face-mask of 
wood, less shapeless than those which according to Whymper's 
drawings are found amon'cj the natives alono; the river Youcon, 
in the territory of Alaska, and according to Dr. Simpson among 
the West-Eskimo. I learned afterwards that this mask came 
from Piik, Behring's Straits, whither it was probably carried 
from the opposite American shore. 

" The village Irgunnuk lies from three to four hundred metres 
from Rirajtinop, and consists of five tents, one of which two days 
before had been removed from Yinretlen. The tents are as 
usual placed on earthy eminences, and have if possible the en 
trance a couple of paces from some steep escarpment, manifestly 
in order that the door -opening may not be too much obstructed 
with snow, I reckon the population of Irgunnuk at forty persons. 

" Off this village the ice is broken up even close to the land 
into torosses, five to six metres hisfh, which form a chain which 


(After a drawing by the seiinian Hansson ) 

closely follows the shore for a distance of five to six hundred 
metres to the eastward. The coast from Irgunnuk to Najtskaj 
runs in a straight line, is low, and only now and then interrupted 
by small earthy eminences, which all bear traces of old dwellings. 
Each of these heights has its special name : first Uelkantinop, 
then Tiumgatti, and lastly Tiungo, two miles west of Najtskaj. 
In the neighbourhood of Uelkantinop we were overtaken by a 
reindeer-Chukch, who accompanied us to Najtskaj in order 
there to purchase fish and seal-blubber. At noon we reached 
Najtskaj, where our arrival had been announced by a native, 
who, with his dog-team, had driven past us on the way. Ac- 
cordingly on our entrance we were surrounded by the youth of 
the village, who deafened us with their unceasing cries for 
bread (kcmka), tobacco, ram, &c. After some moments the 
begging urchins were joined both by women and full-grown men. 




We entered a tent, which belonged to a friend or perhaps 
relation of Notti. There we were very well received. In the 
same tent the reindeer-Chukch also lodged who had given us his 
company on the way. He went into the sleeping chamber, threw 
himself down there, took part in the family's evening meal, all 
almost without uttering a word to the hostess, and the next morn- 
ing he started without having saluted the host. Hospitality is here 
of a peculiar kind. It may perhaps be expressed thus : To-day I 
eat and deep in your tent, to-morrow yon eat and sleep in mine ; 
and accordingly, as far as I saw, all, both rich and poor, both those 
who travelled with large sledges, and those who walked on foot, 
were received in the same way. All are sure to find a corner in 
the tent-chamber. 

" The tent-chamber, or yaranga, as this part of the tent is 
called by the natives, takes up fully a third-part of the whole 
tent, and is at the same time work-room, dining-room, and 
sleeping chamber. Its form is that of a parallelepiped ; and a 


o. Wooden cup to place under the lamp. 7i. Lamp of burned clay. 
One-fifth of the natural size. 

moderately large sleeping chamber has a height of 1'80 metre, 
a length of 3"50, and a breadth of 2*20 metres. The walls are 
formed of reindeer skin with the hair inwards, which are 
supported by a framework of posts and cross-bars. The floor 
consists of a layer of grass undermost, on which a walrus skin is 
spread. The grass and the skin do not form a very soft bed, 
yet one on which even a tired European wanderer may find 
rest. The interior of the sleeping-chamber is lighted and 
warmed by lamps, whose number varies according to the size of 
the room. A moderately large chamber has three lamps, the 
largest right opposite the entrance, the two others on the cross 
walls. The lamps are often made of a sort of stone, which is 
called by the natives ukulschi. They have the form of a large 
ladle. The fuel consists of train-oil, and moss is used for the 
wick. These lamps besides require constant attention, because 
half-an-hour's neglect is sufficient to make them smoke or go 


out. The flame is at one corner of the lamp, whose moss wick 
is trimmed with a piece of wood of the shape shown in the 
drawing. The lamp rests on a foot, and it in its turn in a basin. 
In this way every drop of oil that may be possibly spilled is 
collected. If there is anything that this people ought to save, it 
is certainly oil, for this signifies to them both light and heat. 
In the roof of the bedchamber some bars are fixed over the 
lamps on which clothes and shoes are hung to dry. The lamps 
are kept alight the whole day; during night they are com- 
monly extinguished, as otherwise they would require continual 
attention. Some clothes and fishing implements, two or three 
reindeer skins to rest upon — these are the whole furniture of a 
Chukch tent. 

" Every tent is besides provided with some drums {ydrar). 
These are made of a Avooden ring, about seventy centimetres in 
diameter, on which is stretched a skin of seal or walrus gut. 
The drum is beaten with a light stick of whalebone. The 
sound thus produced is melancholy, and is so in a yet higher 


(After a drawing by G. Bove.) 

a a. The oil. h. The wick. c. The foot. d. The basin under it. 

e. stick for trimmiug the wick. 

degree when it is accompanied by the natives' monotonous, 
commonly rhythmical songs, which ajDpear to me to have a strong 
resemblance to those we hear in Japan and China. A still 
greater resemblance I thought I observed in the dances of these 
peoples. Notti is a splendid 7/^tra?'-player. After some pressing 
he played several of their songs with a feeling for which I had 
not given him credit. The auditors Avere numerous, and by their 
smiles and merry eyes one could see that they were transported 
by the- sounds which ^otti knew how to call from the drum. 
Notti was also listened to in deep silence, with an admiration 
like that with which in a large room we listen to a distinguished 
pianist. I saw in the tent no other musical instrument than 
that just mentioned. 

" The day Ave arrived at Najtskaj Ave employed in vieAving the 
neighbourhood of the village. We accordingly ascended a hiU 
about thirty metres high to the south of the village in order 
to get a clear idea of the region. From the summit of the 




hill we had a view of the two lagoons west and east of Najtskaj. 
The western appeared, with the exception of some earthy- 
heights, to embrace the whole stretch of coast between 
Najtskaj, the hill at Yinretlen, and the mountains which are 
visible in the south from the Observatory. The lagoon east 
of Najtskaj is separated from the sea by a high rampart of sand, 
and extends about thirty kilometres into the interior, to the foot 
of the chain of hills which runs along there. To the eastward 
the lagoon extends along the coast to the neighbourhood of 
Serdze Kamen. This cape was clearly seen and, according to an 
estimate which I do not think was far from the truth, was 
situated at a distance of from twenty-five to twenty-six kilo- 
metres from Najtskaj. It sinks terracewise towards the sea, 
and its sides are covered with stone 
pillars, like those we saw in the neigh- 
bourhood of Cape Great Baranoff. 
Serdze Kamen to the south is con- 
nected with mountain heights which 
are the higher the farther they are 
from the sea. Some of these have a 
conical form, others are table-shaped, 
reminding us of the Ambas of Abys- 
sinia. Ten or twelve miles into the 
interior they appear to reach a height 
of six hundred to nine hundred metres. 
" The fishing^ in the eastern lasfoon 
takes place mainly in the neighbour- 
hood of Najtskaj, at a distance of 
about five kilometres from the villagfe. 
Hooks are exclusively used, and no 
nets or other fishing implements. In 
a few minutes I saw twenty cod 
(icrokadlin) caught, and about as many 
small fish, called by the natives nukio- 
imthio. For the fishing the natives make a hole in the ice, 
a decimetre in diameter. Round the hole they build, as 
a protection against wind and drifting snow, a snow wall 
eighty centimetres high, forming a circle with an inner 
diameter of a metre and a half. The fish-hooks are of iron 
and are not barbed. The line is about five metres long, 
and is fixed to a rod nearly a metre in length. At the end of 
the angling line hangs a weight of bone, and beside it the hook. 
It is generally the women who fish, yet there are generally two 
or three men about to open the holes, build the walls, and keep 
the fishing-places clear. All the holes with their shelter-walls 
lie in an arc, about a kilometre in length, whose convex side is 
turned to the east. The ice in the lagoon was 1'7 metre thick. 



One-eighth tlie natural size. 



the water 3' 2 metres deep, and the thickness of snow on the 
ice 0"3 metre. 

" The day after our arrival at Najtskaj we visited the village 
Tjapka, which lies at a distance of six kilometres. This village 
contains thirteen tents, some of which are more roomy and 
better built than any Chukch tent I have previously seen. 
We lodged in a tent which belonged to Erere, a friendly man 
with a face that was always cheerful. His sleeping-chamber 
was so large that it could hold more than one family. We 
found the inmates there completely naked, Erere's wife, 
Kedlanga, not excepted. Kedlanga was well formed, her 
bosom full, her stomach somewhat projecting, the thighs poor, 
the legs slender, the feet small. The men appeared to have 


To tlie west Idlidlja Island, in the background the \'il]age Tjapka, to the right the great lagoou. 
(After a drawing by O. Nordquist.) 

a greater disposition to stoutness than the women. Some of the 
children had disprojDortionately large stomachs. Both men and 
women wore copper rings on the legs, the wrists, and the upper 
arms. On festivals they decorate themselves with iron rings, 
with which some reminiscence appears to be connected, to judge 
by the fact that they will not part with them. 

" Erere's family was very numerous, according to the prevailing 
state of matters here. He had five children, whose names, 
according to their age, were, Hatanga, Etughi, Vedlat, Uai, and 
Umonga. In all the tents which I visited I have inquired 
the number of children. Only two or three wives had more 
than three ; the average may be estimated at two. 

" The children are from their tenderest years set apart for 


each other ; thus Etughi, Erere's second son, who was httle 
more than eight, was set apart for Keipteka, a girl of six or 
seven. Etughi and Keipteka slept under the same roof, though 
apart. " When they grow bigger," said Erere to me, " their 
sleeping-places will be put alongside each other." At what 
age this takes place I have not ascertained, but I suppose that 
it is very early, as is common with all Oriental races. 

" Right opposite Tjapka lies a small island, by the natives 
called Idlidlja, which is about 800 metres in circumference. Its 
shores rise perpendicularly on all sides except that which is 
opposite Tjapka, in which direction it sinks with a steep slope. 
On the north end of it we found three or four whales' bones 
and some pieces of driftwood, but nothing to indicate that 
there had been any Onkilon dwellings there. The island 
swarmed with hares, which the inhabitants of Tjapka hunt with 
the bow. For this hunting they are accustomed to build 
circular walls of snow, pierced with loopholes, through which 
they shoot the unsuspecting animals. 

" Regarding^ life in the tent I have still the following notes : 
The most troublesome work is given to the older women. They 
rise early to light and attend to 
the lamps, yoke the dogs, and go 
fishing. The young women, on 
the other hand, sleep far into 
the day. The housewives return 
at noon ; their work is then bracelet of copper. 

finished, if we do not consider as Half the natural size. 

work the constant motion of the 

tongue in talk and gossip. The younger people have it 
assigned to them to sew clothes, arrange the fishing-lines and 
nets, prepare skins, &c. Sewing-thread is made from the back 
sinews of the reindeer, which they procure by barter from the 
reindeer-Chukches, giving for them fish and seal-blubber. 

" One cannot, without having seen it, form any idea of the 
large quantity of food they can consume. One evening I saw 
eight persons, including one child, eat about 30 lbs. of food. 
The bill of fare was : 1, raw fish ; 2, soup ; 3, boiled fish ; 
4, seal-blubber ; 5, seal-flesh. The raw fish commonly consists 
of frozen cod. The soup is made partly of vegetables, partly of 
seal-blood ; I saw both kinds. Vegetable soup was prepared by 
boiling equal quantities of water and vegetables, till the mixture 
formed a thick pap. The blood soup is cooked by boiling the 
blood together with water, fish, and fat. They are very fond of 
this soup. The seal-blubber they eat by stuffing into the mouth 
the piece which has been served to them, and then cutting a 
suitable mouthful with the knife, which they bring close to the 
lips. In the same way they do with the flesh. 

E E 




" With the exception of the old women's gossip the greatest 
quietness prevails in the sleeping-chamber. It is not uncom- 
mon for men to visit each other. Thus the first night we spent 
at Najtskaj the tent where we lodged was full of people, but 
without the least disturbance arising. If one had anything to 
say he talked in quite a low tone; as if he were shy. He was 
listened to attentively, without any interruption. First when he 
had finished another began. 

" Affection between spouses and parents and children is particu- 
larly strong. I have seen fathers kiss and caress their children 
before they went to rest, and what I found most remarkable was 

'Ta. •' 





(After a drawing by O. Nordquist.) 

that the children never abused this tender treatment. What- 
ever one gave them, it was their first thought to divide it with 
their parents. In this respect and in many others they were 
far in advance of a large number of European children." 

Lieutenant JBove's Report on an Excursion along with Dr. 
Abkquist to the Interior of the Chiikch Peninsula, from the 
loth to the 17th June, 1870. 

"We started from the vessel on the morning of the 13th June 
with a view to penetrate as far as possible into the interior of 
the Ohukch peninsula. For the journey we had hired, for a 


liberal payment, two sledges drawn by dogs from Rotschitlen, a 
Chukcli at Irgunnuk. The dogs and sledges surpassed our 
expectation. In fourteen hours we traversed a distance of 
nearly forty minutes, including bends, which corresponds to a 
speed of three, perhaps four, English miles an hour, if we deduct 
the rests which were caused by the objects of the journey — 
scientific researches. This speed strikes me as not inconsider- 
able, if we consider the weight which the dogs must draw, and 
the badness and unevenness of the way. For the ground was 
undulating, like a sea agitated by a storm. But pleased as we 
were with our sledges and dogs, we were as dissatisfied with 
Rotschitlen, a faint-hearted youth, without activity or experience. 
With another driver we might have been able in a few days to 
penetrate as far as the bottom of Kolyiitschin Bay, which differs 
greatly in its form from that which Russian, English, and 
German maps give to it. It is not improbable that it is almost 
connected by lakes, lagoons, and rivers with St. Lawrence Bay or 
Metschigme Bay, whose inner parts are not yet investigated. 

" After we left the lagoons at Pitlekaj and Yinretlen, the coast 
began gradually to rise by escarj^ments, each about five metres 
in height. The plains between the escarpments are full of 
lagoons or marshes. Such a terrain continued until, about five 
hours' way from the vessel, we came to a height of twenty-seven 
metres. From this point the terrace-formations cease, and the 
terrain then consists of a large number of ranges of heights, 
intersected by rivulets, which during the snow-melting season 
must be very much flooded. Seven or eight hours' way from 
the vessel we met with such a rivulet, which farther to the 
S.S.E. unites with another which runs between two rocky 
escarpments twenty metres high. On one of these we pitched 
our tent, in order to draw and examine some hills which were 
already divested of the winter dress they had worn for nine long 
months. On the top of one of the hills we found marks of two 
recently-struck tents, which probably belonged to a reindeer 
Chukch, who had now settled halfway between Pitlekaj and 
Table Mount upon a chain of heights which appears to separate 
the Irgunnuk lagoon from the rocky eastern shore of Kolyutschin 
Bay. At our resting place we found a large number of reindeer 
lionis and a heap of broken bones. 

" After resuming our journey we came in a short time to the 
foot of Table Mount, whose height I reckoned at 180 metres. 
It slopes gently to the west and south (about 10°), but more 
steeply to the east and north (about 15°). The animal world 
there showed great activity. In less than an hour we saw more 
than a dozen foxes that ran up and down the hills and circled 
round us, as if they ran with a line. Fortunately for them they 
kept at a respectful distance from our doctor's sure gun. 

E E 2 



" On the other side of Table Mount the ground sinks regularly 
towards Kolyutschin Bay. Here for a while we sought in vain 
for Yettugin's tent, in which we intended to pass the night, and 
which had been fixed upon as the starting-point of future 
excursions, till at last reindeer traces and afterwards the sight of 
some of these friendly animals brought us to the right way, so 
that about 9 o'clock p.m. we got sight of the longed-for dwelling 
in the middle of a snow-desert. At the word yaranga (tent) 
the dogs pointed their ears, uttered a bark of joy, and ran at full 
speed towards the goal. We arrived at 10.30 P.M. In the tent 
we were hospitably received by its mistress, who immediately 
made the necessary preparations for our obtaining food and 
rest. Yettugin himself was not at home, but he soon returned 
with a sledge drawn by reindeer. These animals had scarcely 
been unharnessed when they ran back to the herd, which 
according to Yettugin's statement was six kilometres east of 
the tent. 

" I have never seen a family so afflicted with ailments as 
Yettugin's. The sexagenarian father united in himself almost 
all the bodily ailments which could fall to the lot of a mortal. 
He was blind, leprous (?), and had no use of the left hand, the 
right side of the face, and probably of the legs. His body was 
nearly everywhere covered with the scars of old sores from four 
to five centimetres in diameter. As Dr. Almquist and I were 
compelled to pass the night in the same confined sleeping- 
chamber with him, it was therefore not to be wondered at that 
we drew ourselves as much as possible into our corner. The 
sleeping-chamber or inner tent of a reindeer-Chukch is besides 
much more habitable than that of a coast-Chukch ; the air, if 
not exactly pure, may at least be breathed, and the thick layer 
of reindeer skins which covers the tent floor may well compare 
in softness with our beds on board. Yettugin, his wife 
Tengaech, and his brother Keuto, slept out of doors in order 
to give us more room and not to disturb us when rising. 
Keuto had inherited no small portion of his father's calamity. 
He was deaf, half idiotic, and on his body there were already 
traces of such spots as on the old man's. Keuto was however an 
obliging youth, who during our stay in the tent did all that he 
could to be of use to us, and constantly wandered about to get 
birds and plants for us. He was a skilful archer ; I saw him at a 
distance of twenty or twenty-five paces kill a small bird with a 
blunt arrow, and when I placed myself as a target he hit me right 
in the middle of the breast at a distance of perhaps thirty metres. 

"The 14th was employed by me in astronomical and 
geodetical observations, and by Dr. Almquist in excursions in 
the neighbourhood of Yettugin's tent in order to investigate the 
fauna and flora of the neighbourhood. About 10 o'clock p.m. 


he returned, quite exhausted after eight hours' walking in deep 
water-drenched snow under a perceptible solar heat. The 
results of the excursion were in all respects exceedingly good, 
not only in consequence of a number of finds in natural history, 
but also through the discovery that the shore of Kolyutschin 
Bay runs three-quarters of a mile south-west of Yettugin's tent, 
which was