Journey to the Polar Sea

p. 21: The commander of the vessel [Harmony] gave me a translation of the Gospel of St. John in the Esquimaux language, printed by the Moravian Society in London.

p. 253, August 1820 and the arrival of the annual HBC ship: By the newspapers we learned the demise of our revered and lamented sovereign George III., and the proclamation of George IV. We concealed this intelligence from the Indians, lest of their Great Father might lead them to suppose that we should be unable to fulfil our promises to them.

p. 259, during the winter season at Fort Enterprise in December 1820: As it may be interesting to the reader to know how we passed our time at this season of the year, I shall mention briefly, that a considerable portion of it was occupied in the writing up of our journals. Some newspapers and magazines that we had received from England with our letters, were read again and again, and commented upon at our meals, and we often exercised ourselves with conjecturing the changes that might take place in the world before we could hear from it again. The probability of our receiving letters, and the period of their arrival, were calculated to a nicety….

In the evenings we joined the men in the hall, and took part in their games, which generally continued to a late hour; in short, we never found the time to hang heavy upon our ;hands; and the peculiar occupations of each of the officers afforded them more employment than might be supposed.

p. 260: The Sabbath was always a day of rest with us; the woodmen were required to provide for the exigencies of that day on Saturday, and the party were dressed in their best attire. Divine service was regularly performed, and the Canadians attended and behaved with great decorum, although they were all Roman Catholics, and but little acquainted with the language in which the prayers were read. I regretted very much that we had not a French Prayer-Book, but the Lord’s Prayer and Creed were always read to them in their own language.

p. 403: I, therefore, issued directions to deposit at this encampment the dipping needle, azimuth compass, magnet, a large thermometer, and a few books we had carried, having torn out of these, such parts as we should require to work the observations for latitude and longitude.

p. 440, at the end of Franklin’s account and just before Dr. Richardson’s Narrative: The Doctor having brought his prayer-book and testament, some prayers and psalms, and portions of scripture, appropriate to our situation, were, and we retired to bed.

p. 441, [from Dr. Richardson’s Narrative]: Through the extreme kindness and forethought of a lady, the party, previous to leaving London, had been furnished with a small collection of religious books, of which we still retained two or three of the most portable, and they proved of incalculable benefit to us. We read portions of them to each other as we lay in bed, in addition to the morning and evening service, and found that they inspired us on each perusal with so strong a sense of the omnipresence of a beneficent God, that our situation, even in those wilds, appeared no longer destitute; and we conversed, not only with calmness, but with cheerfulness, detailing with unrestrained confidence the past events of our lives, and dwelling with hope on our future prospects. Had my poor friend been spared to revisit his native land, I should look back to this period with unalloyed delight.

p. 448, again from Dr. Richardson’s Narrative, after the murder by Michel of Mr. Hood on October 20: We removed the body into a clump of willows behind the tent, and, returning to the fire, read the funeral service in addition to the evening prayers. The loss of a young officer, of such distinguished and varied talents and application, may be felt and duly appreciated by the eminent characters under whose command he had served; but the calmness with which he contemplated the probable termination of a life of uncommon promise; and the patience and fortitude with which he sustained, I may venture to say, unparalleled bodily sufferings, can only be known to the companions of his distresses. Owing to the effect that the tripe de roche invariably had, when he ventured to taste it, he undoubtedly suffered more than any of the survivors of the party. Bickersteth’s Scripture Help was lying open beside the body, as if it had fallen from his hand, and it is probable that he was reading it at the instant of his death.

[The following reader reaction to Franklin’s first major work, Journey to the Polar Sea, is from RED (Reading Experience Database) UK, and an unidentified woman author]: ‘I like your Capt. Franklin mainly – and his manly & respectful commendation of my poor dear James, is charming. — I am (though a little ashamed to own it) not fond, in general, of Voyages. Many women are, and I wish I were one – for the more innocent amusements we have the better. But when scientific purposes are to be answered by such voyages, I have great respect for them, and only wish I could get at their marrow, without being obliged to read about the gluttonous, dirty, lying, thieving, and brutal Savages! – To think that such creatures are really our fellow-beings, and that we might have been such as they are, but for the favour of God, is to me the most melancholy consideration in the world’.