A Voyage of Discovery, Made under the Orders of the Admiralty, in His Majesty’s Ships Isabella and Alexander, for the Purpose of Exploring Baffin’s Bay, and Inquiring into the Probability of a North-West Passage.

The first nineteenth-century attempt to locate a Northwest Passage was commanded by John Ross, a moderately successful expedition that ruined his reputation. John Barrow of the Admiralty was so outraged at Ross’s failure to explore fully Lancaster Sound that he did everything in his power to discredit Ross after this expedition.

Volume I:

p. xxii-xxiii: The following Books were supplied for the use of the officers, and quarter-deck petty officers, of His Majesty’s ship Isabela:

1 Mackenzie’s Travels in America, 4to.
2 Hearne’s ditto, ditto, 4to.
3 Phipp’s Voyage to the North Pole, 4to.
4 Ellis’s ditto to Hudson’s Bay, 8vo.
5 Vancouver’s Voyage, 3 vols. 4to., and Atlas, folio.
6 Wallis, Carteret, and Cook’s Voyages, 8 vols. 4to., with Atlas, folio.
7 Dampier’s Voyages, 4 vols. 8vo.
8 Portlock’s ditto, 4to.
9 Dixon’s ditto, 4to.
10 Meare’s ditto, 4to.
11 Coxe’s Russian Discoveries, 8vo.
12 Barrington’s Miscellanies, 4to.
13 Forster’s Northern Discoveries, 2 vols. 4to.
14 Astronomical Observations of Wales and Bayly, 1772 to 1775, 4to.
15 Ditto of Cook, King, and Bayly, 1776-1780, 4to.
16 Ditto of Byron, Wallis, Carteret, and Cook, from 1746 to 1771, 4to.
17 Broynart’s Mineralogy, 2 vols. 8vo.
18 Bakewell’s Geology, 8vo
19 Turton’s Linnæus, 7 vols. 8vo.
20 Mackenzie’s Iceland, 4to.
21 Falconer’s Patagonia, 4to.
22 Cartwright’s Labrador, 3 vols. 4to.
23 Turnbull’s Voyage. 4to.
24 Crantz’s History of Greenland, 2 vols. 8vo.
25 Burney’s Collection of Voyages. 5 vols. 4to

Thirty Bible and sixty Testaments were also supplied by the Naval and Military Bible Society, for the four ships, and distributed accordingly.

p. lvi, instructions from Ross to Commander Parry, May 3, 1818: “Sir, “Herewith you will receive orders and instructions for your further proceedings; also fifty printed papers, one of which, after having filled up the blanks, is to be put into a bottle, carefully sealed up, and thrown overboard, at noon, every day, after passing latitude 65° N., provided the Isabella is not in company; the receipt of these you will be pleased to acknowledge….”

p. 3 April 26 1818: The next day being Sunday, the signal was made for Divine service, which was answered by the Alexander… and prayers were read according to the forms established in His Majesty’s navy. The solemnity with which this service is always attended on board of a ship, was here more than usually conspicuous and impressive, from the prospect that was opening before us, and the uncertainty of the event with which a voyage of this nature was likely to be accomplished. The articles of war were afterwards read, as is usual at the outset of every voyage….

p. 13: The morning of Sunday, the 17th, broke delightfully, with pleasant, clear, invigorating breezes. Divine service was performed, and a sermon read to the ship’s company; and as the division of the crew into three watches afforded much leisure time for reading, I distributed some religious tracts among the men.

p. 125-26: Our drawings [portraits of natives] being completed, and interrogatories ended, they began to be very inquisitive, asking the use of everything in the cabin; we showed them paper, drawings, and various mathematical instruments, which produced only the usual effect of astonishing them; but, on being shewn the prints in Cook’s Voyage, of the natives of Otaheite, they attempted to grasp them, evidently comprehending that they were the representations of human beings. The sight of a writing-desk, a bureau, and of other wooden furniture, also excited their astonishment, but apparently from the nature of the material only, as they seemed to form no idea of their uses.

Volume II:In addition to a brief account of the conclusion of the voyage, most of volume II is devoted to appendixes of instructions and reports.