Boekgegevens
Titel: First English reading book: Engelsch leesboek voor instituten, gymnasiën en hoogere burgerscholen: met Nederlandsche woordenlijst
Auteur: Herrig, Ludwig
Uitgave: Arnhem: J. Voltelen, 1869 *
Auteursrechten: Zie auteursrechten
Citeerinstructie: Bijzondere Collecties van de Universiteit van Amsterdam, UBM: IWO 513 H 21
URL: https://schoolmuseum.uba.uva.nl/bookid/LCSM_204683
Onderwerp: Taal- en letterkunde naar afzonderlijke talen: Engelse taalkunde
Trefwoord: Leesvaardigheid, Engels, Leermiddelen (vorm)
* jaar van uitgave niet op de gebruikelijke wijze verkregen, mogelijk betreft het een schatting
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undei' part of the belly; but the chief use
of these seems to be to balance it, or keep
it steady, as it moves along. About a third
part of its whole length is occupied by its
enormous head, which is cleft in two by a
mouth, the opening of which extends to the
neck. The head of the whale is the most
peculiar and remarkable part of its struc-
ture. The species we are now describing,
although it has both upper and lower jaws
of porous bone, has no teeth, but in their
room two fringes, as they may be called,
consisting each of a series of blades of an
elastic substance covered on their interior
edges with hair, attached to the upper gum.
This is the substance known by the name
of whalebone. The blades are broadest at
their upper extremity, where they are in-
serted in the gum, and are of greatest
length in the middle of the series or row
on each side of the mouth. The greatest
length varies from ten to fifteen feet; and
the breadth at the gum is usually, in a full-
grown fish, from ten to twelve inches.
There arc upwards of three hundred blades
in each series, or side of bone, as the
whale-fishers term it. The use of this part
of its structure to the animal is to serve
as a net or sieve in which to collect its
food. As it proceeds with distended jaws
through the ocean, the water rushes through
this sieve; but even the minutest living
creatures are detained by it, and are made,
in so many successive accumulations, to
form mouthful after mouthful to the mighty
destroyer.
The eyes of the whale are placed almost
immediately above the comers of the mouth.
They are singularly disproportionate to the
size of the animal, being scarcely larger
than those of an ox. No trace of nn ear
is to be discerned till after the removal of
the skin; and the hearing of the whale is
accordingly very imperfect. On the most
elevated part of the head are the nostrils
or blow-holes, being two longitudinal aper-
tures of six or eight inches in length.
Through these, when the creature breathes,
a jet of moist vapour is snorted forth to
the height of eighteen or twenty feet, and
with a noise which may sometimes be heard
at the distance of several miles.
The open mouth of a whale is a capa-
cious cavern, capable of containing a ship's
jolly-boat full of men. Captain Scoresby
describes its dimensions as being common-
ly six or eight feet wide, ten or twelve
feet high in front, and fifteen or sixteen
feet long. The throat, however, is very
narrow.
Such then is the enormous creature upon
J^rst Reading book.
which man has undertaken to make war,
undeterred by a disparity of size, strength,
and all the elements of natural power. The
whale fishery affords the most extraordinary
exemphfication of how inadequate is the
mightiest endowment of mere brute force
to cope with the resources of art. The de-
solate and inclement region, which is the
scene of enterprise, encompasses the pur-
suit with its worst hardships and dangers.
In this realm of eternal winter, man Jinds
the land, the sea, and the air equally in-
hospitable. Every thing fights against him.
The intensest cold benumbs his flesh and
joints; while fogs or driving sleet often
darken the sky, and at the same time arm
the frost with a keener tooth. The ocean
over which he moves, besides its ordinary
perils, is crowded with new and strange
horrors. Sometimes the ice lies extended
in fixed beds that bar all navigation as ef-
fectually as would a wall of iron, and over
whose rugged and broken surface he can
only make his way by leaping from point
to pohit, at the risk of being ingulfed at
every step. Sometimes it bears down upon
him in vast floating fields with such an im-
petus that, at the shock, the strong tim-
bers of his ship crack and give way like
an eggshell, or are crushed and ground to
fragments between two meeting masses.
Sometimes it rises before him in the shape
of a lofty mountain, which the least change
in the relative weights of the portion above
and that beneath the surface of the water
may bring in sudden ruin upon his head,
burying crew and vessel beneath the tumbl-
ing chaos, or striking them far into the
abyss.
Almost the only vegetation that springs
from this frost-bound soil is a scanty ver-
dure, formed of mosses, lichens, and other
low plants that conceal themselves beneath
the snow. At the farthest limit to which
adventure has pierced, a night of four
months' duration closes each dismal year;
throughout which human life has indeed
been sustained by individuals previously in-
ured to a severe climate, but the horroi's
of which have, in most of the instances in
which the dreadful experiment has been
either voluntarily or involuntarily tried by
the natives of more temperate regions, only
driven the wretched sufferers through a suc-
cession of the intensest bodily and mental
tortures, and then laid them at rest in the
sleep of death.
From the narrative of the voyage of
Ohthere the Dane, given by King Al-
fred, in his Saxon translation of Orosius, it
would appear that the pursuit of the whale
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