A rather lacklustre book about the exhumation of three Franklin sailors in 1984. Spectacular for its pictures of the corpses; less so for a few things about books.
p. 13-14: Despite the cramped quarters, the two vessels [Erebus and Terror], the two vessels still had room for luxuries. The Erebus had a library of 1,700 volumes, while the Terror carried 1,200, including everything from narratives of earlier arctic expeditions and geographical journals to Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby and bound copies of Punch magazine.
p. 39, on the original finding of one of the Franklin death sites at Cape Crozier: Six books, including a Bible and The Vicar of Wakefield, were discovered and scoured for messages but none was found.
p. 49, quotes Tennyson’s epitaph for Franklin’s memorial in Westminster Abbey:
Not here: the white North hath thy bones, and thou
Heroic Sailor Soul
Art passing on thy happier voyage now
Toward no earthly pole.
p. 93, inscriptions on the sailor’s coffins were biblical quotations, viz. Haggai i.7 and Joshua xxiv.15. There were Bibles aboard so should have been no trouble to find quotes.
p. 127, on Torrington’s burial: Franklin presumably presided at the burial. He was a deeply religious man who, eight months earlier, had asked the British Admiralty to furnish one hundred Bibles, prayer books and testaments for sale at cost aboard the ships.