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from them. From this circumstance, a tolerably correct idea may be formed of their height. Sir Isaac Newton has given us principles by which an accurate estimate may be made of the height of an object if you know its distance, and of the distance of an object if you know its height.
When two vessels approach each other at sea, the top-gallant sails are, at first, all that is seen ; the nearer they approach each other, the more they seem to rise out of the water. Seamen discover, from the squareness of the yards, what sort of vessel it is; they can judge pretty correctly what height of masts she should have, and, therefore, can nearly determine her distance; a very important matter in time of war, and in case of being chased.
If, according to your reckoning, you run ninety-six miles from the time you first see the top of a mountain until you come near it, you may calculate that mountain to be about a mile in height; and if you know the height of the mountain, you can ascertain your distance as soon as you see it. Increase the height, and Che distance at which the object may be seen increases in the following proportion: At the distance of 4.18 miles, looking over a smooth surface, you can see the top of an object 10 feet high; at 8.37 miles you can see the top of an object 40 feet high. In order that one object may be seen at double the distance of another, it must be four times higher. The Peak of Teneriffe is from thirteen to fourteen thousand feet high, so that it will be seen just appearing above the horizon at the distance of about 150 miles.
When people on the sea-shore talk of immensely extensive views on the boundless ocean, they are not aware, that these immensely extensive views, reach but a few miles, unless they are on a very elevated situation.
On the south side of the river St. Lawrence, the province of Canada extends to the entrance of the river at Cape Rosier, where you have the district of Gaspi, and a bay of that name a few leagues to the south of Cape Rosier. This part of Canada is still inhabited by a few Indians.
On the north side of the entrance of the river you have the Labrador coast, and the islands of Mingan. Amongst these islands there is secure and good anchorage, and they present an excellent situation for a cod, seal, and salmon fishery; they are well adapted also for carrying on a trade with the Esquimaux Indians.
Higher up the river you have The Bay of Seven Islands, a secure harbour for ships in any wind. In this neighbourhood are what are called The King's Posts. The French king established settlements or posts here for fishing, and carrying on the fur trade with the Indians, who inhabit the country as far north as Hudson's Bay. The King's Posts belong to government, as successors to the rights of the French king. They are held in lease by the Northwest Company, established in Montreal, who pay 1000/. per annum of rent, and they have the exclusive right of trading with the Indians of the Labrador country. Some of the finest furs come from these posts, particularly bears and foxes.
We have proceeded up the river a considerable way, but it still looks like a sea. To-day I witnessed a very extraordinary scene; a fierce battle, in consequence of a whale being attacked by a thresher and a sword-jish. One would think that the immense size and strength of the whale would put him entirely out of danger, but size and strength must often yield to ingenuity and stratagem; no animal seems exempt from a violent death, not even the whale. Our Canadian pilot informed me that such conflicts were very common in the river St. Lawrence. The thresher (the Canadians call it un flkau) is from fifteen to twenty feet long; of the flat fish genus, resembling a sole, but rather longer in proportion; the back, like that of the sole, is black; and the belly white. He is assisted in his attack on the whale by the sword-fish. It would seem that pure antipathy and mischief are alone the causes of this combination; they have not the stimulus of hunger, as they do not eat the whale when dead. Fish are generally considered to be extremely stupid animals; but here you have a concerted plan, and an instance of ratiocination, approaching to that of the dog or fox.
When the attack is to commence, the sword-fish gets under the whale, and darts up at him with immense force*. The whale, feeling the stroke and attack of the sword-fish, flies to the top of the water, where the thresher attacks him. I saw the whale come up, raising his huge back high out of the water. The tail of the thresher was immediately seen brandished in the air, and most part of his body out of the water; flap after flap he struck the whale on the back as fast as I could with a stick, who, feeling the blows, darts down head foremost, raising his immense forked tail in the air, and striking with it on every side, apparently with a view of hitting the thresher, and if it did, instant death most
* To shew the strength of the sword-fish, it may be proper to observe, that the sword has been found sticking in the bottom of a ship. On the 16th September, 1806, in Ayris ship-yard, in Kensington, near Philadelphia, the ship Pensilvania packet was hove down, and it was found that she had been struck six feet below the .bends by a sword-fish: the sword had pierced the copper sheathing, and bottom plank, to the ceiling inside; the sword was broken short off outside; it had been driven in with such force as to splinter the plank and cause a leak. It is supposed that the sword-fish mistakes the ship for a whale. I believe there is to.be seen, in the British Museum, a part of the bottom of a ship, with the sword of the fish which pierced it sticking in it.