Sir John Franklin.

p. 75: And now we come to one of the most tragic histories ever told. One might call it pathetic, but that, as Thackeray says of the circumstances of George the Third’s madness, it is too terrible for tears. Nevertheless, no one could read Franklin’s diary and not be touched. It was, it must be remembered, written from night to night, after the day had been spent in one of the most frightful of all torments, starvation, and when death seemed to draw visibly nearer hour by hour. It is as if he had written it with his heart’s blood, which to the last drop he was determined should be shed for those at home in England. There is no unmanly wailing in it. It is the most matter-of-fact record of appalling suffering. Perhaps the most tragic feature of it is that at one point the dates cease. Whether he had lost count of time or not, it is impossible to say. The diary does not cease, though the dates do. Perhaps the record of those days was added afterwards, because, however willing the spirit was, he found it frequently impossible to pen his notes upon the spot.

p. 94: WHEN Franklin had departed, Richardson, Hood, and Hepburn sat by the fire as long as it lasted, and then went to bed, where they remained all next day, reading to each other portions of some religious books which a lady in London had given them, and so comforted by their trust in an omnipresent Being that they felt their situation to be no longer destitute, and talked cheerily, confiding to each other their past lives, and speaking of the future with hope.

p. 113, Parry letter to Franklin, October 23rd, 1823.: To place you, in the rank of travellers, above Park and Hearne and others, would, in my estimation, be nothing in comparison of your merits. But in you and your party, my dear friend, we see so sublime an instance of Christian confidence in the Almighty, of the superiority of moral and religious energy over mere brute strength of body, that it is impossible to contemplate your sufferings and preservation without a sensation of reverential awe. I have not yet seen your book, and have only read the Quarterly Review. This latter was put into my hand at Shetland, and I need not be ashamed to say that I cried over it like a child. The tears I shed, however, were those of pride and pleasure—pride at being your countryman, brother officer, and friend—pleasure in seeing the virtues of the Christian adding their first and highest charm to the unconquerable perseverance and splendid talents of the officer and the man.

p. 130, Franklin letter to R. J. Murchison, November 6th, 1825: Advanced, as I presume you now are, in geological knowledge, an excursion down the Mackenzie would be very interesting to you, as its banks offer very fine specimens of the coal formation, with its neighbouring sand and limestones. The latter abound in good specimens of the shells and organic remains peculiar to that series. We have collected a variety of them, and I look forward with pleasure to having them explained by our very kind friend, Dr. Fitton. We have brought up the collection he had the goodness to give us for reference, and our excellent friend Dr. Richardson affords all the information he hears, or which he can gather from the books we have brought respecting them, so that through him we endeavour to keep up the information which Dr. Fittan first imparted. We have got Conybeare and Phillips, Phillips and Jameson on Mineralogy, and Humboldt on the superposition of rocks; but to the inexperienced, one lecture from a person conversant with the science is more profitable than many hours’ reading on subjects naturally difficult to be comprehended. It is evident, too, on the slightest inquiry into Geology, that a comparative knowledge of other sciences is requisite—Mineralogy and Chemistry for instance, to which I should apply more closely, if the opportunity were permitted me, than I have yet done. You were wisely laying the foundation by close application to Mr. Bearde’s courses. I have been delighted with Dante, and so have my companions; but I must confess there is frequently a depth of thought and reasoning to which my mind can hardly reach—perhaps these parts will be better comprehended on re-perusal. It seems clear that Milton, as well as other poets, have borrowed ideas from his comprehensive mind….

p. 131, Franklin letter to Murchison continued: We endeavour to keep ourselves in good humour, health, and spirits by an agreeable variety of useful occupation and amusement. Till the snow fell, the game of hockey, played on the ice, was the morning’s sport. At other times Wilson’s pipes are put in request, and now and then a game of Blind Man’s Buff—in fact, any recreation is encouraged to promote exercise and good feeling. I wish you could pop in and partake our fare; you would be sure of a hearty welcome, and you should have your choice of either moose or reindeer meat or trout, weighing from forty to fifty pounds ; but you must bring wine and bread if you wish either for more than one day. I shall send this letter to Dr. Fitton, as I recollect you were on the point of changing your residence. I beg you to offer my best remembrance to Mrs. Murchison, and my friends Dr. R. and Back desire theirs to you; the latter, as well as Mr. Kendall, have made several very interesting sketches, which I shall have great pleasure in showing you and Mrs. Murchison on our return.

p. 147: The anxiety of their situation left them little inclination to read, and still less to devise amusements. In this dull and monotonous way they crept gradually westwards till they reached the mouth of the river, which was called the Clarence—the most westerly river in the British dominions on this coast.

p. 225, on finding Franklin relics: Five or six books, all religious, except the “Vicar of Wakefield” were found, one with Gore’s initials, and an amazing quantity of clothing and miscellaneous articles, including two rolls of sheet lead, and twenty-six silver spoons and forks, which were very likely issued to the men for their use as the only way of preserving them.

p. 231, on results of the overland expedition: It is no part of the plan of this book to enter into any account of the various expeditions sent in search of Franklin. But the enormous additions made to our geographical knowledge by Franklin himself, and by the expeditions sent in search of him, will be apparent at a glance to anyone who takes up a map of the Arctic regions as they were known before the journey to the Coppermine River, and as they are known now.