LESSON 22 Greenland(I)
Greenland(1) is a vast island, or cluster of islands perpetually joined together by ice, forming a continent about seven times as large as the British Isles; but its exact extent is not known, as its northern limit, which lies far within the Arctic Ocean, has never been explored.
The American expedition(2) of 1853, under the command of the celebrated Dr. Kane,(3) reached a point on the western coast of Greenland farther north than had previously been attained. It was within six hundred miles of the North Pole. Here they discovered an immense glacier,(4) since named the Humboldt(5) Glacier, which, as described by Dr. Kane, rose like a solid glassy wall, three hundred feet above the level of the water! He considers this great glacier to be the northern termination of a vast ice ocean, which occupies the interior of nearly the whole of Greenland.
Attempts were made by one of Dr. Kane's sledge parties to climb the glacier; but, though provided with apparatus, they failed in all their efforts to scale the stupendous mass. Another party, pushing northward and keeping parallel to the glacier, at a distance of about six miles from it, came in sight of a vast open sea,(6) extending as far as the eye could reach. This sea abounded with seals, bears, and all kinds of Arctic birds. It would thus seem as if the limit of the icy barrier had been reached, and that probably round the pole itself there exists an open sea, in which animal life is abundant.
The native inhabitants of Greenland are true Esquimaux; and from them, indeed, our earliest knowledge of the Esquimau race was obtained. The habits of these people have been made familiar to us by the accounts given to the world by Danish colonists and missionaries(7) hundreds of years ago; and, in later times, by the Arctic explorers and whale fishers who have visited the frozen regions of the North.
They inhabit a vast territory, extending from Greenland to the shores of the Pacific; and yet the whole Esquimau race is supposed to number only about fifty thousand, or not much more than the population of such a town as Carlisle. The average stature of the Esquimaux is far below that of European nations. The common height is little more than five feet, and an Esquimau of six feet would be a giant among his people.
The northern Esquimaux live in houses built of snow or ice; but the huts in the south of Greenland are made of stone or wood, and covered with brush, turf, and earth. In the summer they live in tents made of skins. It is not uncommon to find several families crowded together in the smallest possible space, where they eat, drink, and sleep, with fish and flesh lying all around, and dogs reposing on every side.
The food of the Esquimaux includes almost every animal found within their region, but the seal and the walrus are their principal support for nine months of the year. Their improvidence often reduces them to terrible straits. Captain Parry(8) speaks of meeting with some who had no food, and who, to keep themselves from starvation, were devouring the very skins which composed their clothes!
The children are carried about by the mother very carefully on her back, in a fur hood, until they are two or three years of age, and then they take care of themselves, being expected to imitate what they see their elders do. A boy very early has a bow and arrows put into his hands, that he may practise shooting at a mark. Towards his tenth year his father provides him with a kayak,(9) that he may initiate him in the arts of rowing, rising, oversetting and coming up again, fowling, fishing, and all those dexterous feats in which he is himself skilled. In his sixteenth year he is expected to accompany his father in seal-catching; and his first seal is made the occasion of great festivity. The girls at fourteen years of age are required to sew, cook, and dress leather; and two or three years later they must learn to row the woman's boat, and build houses!
The traffic of the Greenlanders is, of course, limited to a very small number of articles. They not unfrequently load their sledges and boats with various commodities, and start off with their families on a trading expedition. They often stay away for a year or more, during which time they build a house in the neighbourhood of some settlement.
They rarely cheat, much less rob, each other; but they think it fair, and even to the credit of their shrewdness, to cheat Europeans, or steal from them all they can! The blubber and skins which they sell to them are in exchange for almost any article manufactured from iron or steel. They are ignorant of the value of gold, which they do not prize more than tin or brass; but iron, in any shape, is invaluable to them.
The Esquimaux are not without their festivities. The chief of these is called the Sun Feast, at the winter solstice,(10) to celebrate the reappearance of the sun, and the renewal of hunting and fishing opportunities. Throughout the country they assemble together in companies, and do their best in the way of entertainment.
The perfection to which the Esquimaux carry such work as they attempt is quite wonderful, when we consider the scarcity of material and the want of emulation and of any division of labour among them. Their houses are built with mathematical regularity, and are well adapted for securing warmth and protection against the encroachments of the weather.
What is Greenland? Who reached the most northerly point in it that has ever been attained? When? What did they discover? What did a party going still further north discover? Who are the natives of Greenland? How many do the Esquimaux number in all? Of what are their houses built? What does their food include? At what age are their boys taught to manage a boat? What is their man's boat called? For what purpose do the Esquimaux often go on distant expeditions? What metals do they prise most highly? What is their chief festivity?
格陵兰岛是什么？谁到了以前已经到达过的最北的点？何时？ 他们发现了什么？一队继续往北走到更远的人员发现了什么？ 谁是格陵兰岛的原住民？爱斯基摩人总共有多少人口？他们的房子用什么建造的？他们的食物包括什么？他们种族的男孩子在多大年纪学习驾驭船只？他们种族男式的船称作什么？爱斯基摩人为什么要经常去遥远的地方探险？他们最看重什么金属？他们最主要的节庆活动是什么？