Journal of a Voyage for the Discovery of a North-West Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Performed in the Years 1819-20, in his Majesty’s Ships Hecla and Griper.

Disappointed at John Ross’s failure to find an open path through the Northwest Passage in 1818, the Admiralty’s John Barrow ordered this important continuation of the search. Continuing explorations eventually morphed into the Franklin Search as well by 1849.

p. viii: On our return to England in the beginning of November,1820, all the journals, logs, charts, and drawings, which had been furnished by every individual belonging to the Expedition, were delivered to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, to be at their disposal; and their Lordships were pleased immediately to direct them to be returned into my hands, for te purpose of preparing for publication, under their authority, an official account of the voyage.

p. x-xi, on the maps and charts contained in the volume.

p. 3, enroute to Greenland: A bottle was thrown overboard, containing a printed paper, stating the date and the situation of the ships, with a request, in six European languages, that any person finding it would forward it to the Secretary of the Admiralty, with a notice of the time and place where; it was found*. One bottle, at least, was thrown out daily during the voyage, except when the ships were “beset” in the ice. [*For the purpose of this practice and the Admiralty instructions, see p. xxvi. The printed papers were supplied in advance and do not imply a printing press aboard the ships.]

p. 48, August 18, 1819: There was just enough light at midnight to enable us to read and write in the cabin.

p. 92, and plate opposite has this annotation by Liddon, expanding on Parry’s description in the text: The evening was both calm and clear, and the vast bodies of ice which had been set in motion, made a noise, in jamming together, & pressing the lesser substances away before it, very like the howling of a forest in a tempest. This scene so awfully grand & sublime, struck one more, I really think, with thoughts of its grandeur & chaotic appearance than it impressed me with fear for the consequences; nor could I help remarking to Hoppner that, I wished [bottom of plate] Lord Byron had been present for the purpose of afterwards describing it: to which he replied, that a score or two of dray-horses, to pull us out of the way, would [three words missing, from trimmed lower margin] serviceable than a poet & better adopted to our security. The Plate is titled “Situation of H M S Hecla and Griper Sept 20th 1819” and the annotation relates to that situation. Liddon in his annotations is full of praise for Parry and his seamanship and wisdom.]

p. 106: In order still further to promote good-humour among ourselves as well as to furnish amusing occupation, during the hours of constant darkness, we set on foot a weekly newspaper, which was to be called the North Georgia Gazette and Winter Chronicle, and of which Captain Sabine undertook to be the editor, under the promise that it was to be supported by original contributions from the officers of the two ships….

p.112, Oct. 26, 1819: On the 26th, the sun afforded us sufficient light for writing and reading in my cabin, the stern-windows exactly facing the south, from half-past nine till half-past two; for the rest of the four-and-twenty hours we lived, of course, by candle-light.

p. 124, on the required daily walk for officers and men: It may well be imagined that at this period, thee was but little to be met with in our walks onshore, which could either amuse or interest us. The necessity of not exceeding the limited distance of one or two miles, lest a snow-drift, which often rises very suddenly, should prevent our return, added considerably to the dull and tedious monotony, which day after day, presented itself.

p. 126: It is scarcely necessary to add, that the evening occupations of the officers were f a more ration kind than those which engaged, the attention of the men. Of these, reading and writing were the principal employments, to which were occasionally added a game of chess, or a tune on the flute or violin, till half-past ten, about which time we all retired to rest.

p. 127: Our theatrical entertainments took place regularly once a fortnight, and continued to prove a source of infinite amusement to the men. Our stock of plays was so scanty, consisting only of one or two volumes, which happened accidentally to be on board, that it was with difficulty we could find the means of varying the performances sufficiently; our authors, therefore, set to work, and produced as a Christmas piece, a musical entertainment, expressly adapted to our audience, and having such a reference to the service on which we were engaged, and the success we had so far experienced, as once to afford a high degree of present recreation, and to stimulate, if possible, the sanguine hopes which were entertained by all onboard, of the complete accomplishment of our enterprise. We were at one time apprehensive, that the severity of the weather would have prevented the continuation of this amusement, but the perseverance of the officers overcame every difficulty; and, perhaps for the first time since theatrical entertainments were invented, more than one or two plays were performed, on board the Hecla, with the thermometer below zero on the stage.

The North Georgia Gazette, which I have already mentioned, was a source of great amusement, not only to the contributors, but to those who, from diffidence of their own talents, or other reasons, could not be prevailed on to add their mite to the little stock of literary composition, which was weekly demanded; for those who declined to write were not unwilling to read, and more ready to criticize than those wielded the pen; but it was that good-humoured sort of criticism that could not give offence. The subjects handled in this paper were, of course, various, but generally applicable to our own situation. Of its merits or defects it will not be necessary for me to say any thing here, as I find that the officers, who were chiefly concerned in carrying it on, have agreed to print it for the entertainment of their friends; the publisher being at liberty, after supplying each with a certain number of copies, to dispose of the rest.