A Sequel to the North-West Passage, and the Plans for the Search for Sir John Franklin. A Review.

A summary of the history of the Franklin Search until 1858 when John Brown died. It is quite a comprehensive summary, if a bit dogmatic in Brown’s criticism of various searchers. He sounds at times like Barrow criticizing Sir John Ross for not finding the answer he wanted.

p. 405: As to their books and papers, are these poor fellows to be so thoughtless as to leave their books and papers open and exposed to the rain and the blast? We think not; they were put en cache.

Brown starts near the beginning, with Columbus, and how he won favour with both the Spanish king and with merchants:

p. 4: “The era was propitious to the quick advancement of knowledge. The recent invention of the art of printing enabled men to communicate rapidly and extensively their ideas and discoveries.” “Every step in advance was immediately and widely promulgated, recorded in a thousand forms, and fixed for ever. There could never again be a dark age. Nations might shut their eyes to the light, and sit in willful darkness, but they could not trample it out; it would shine on, dispensed to happier parts of the world.” [The source here is Washington Irving’s Life and Voyages of Columbus.]

p. 14, like so many commanders and commentators, Brown praises the role of Providence in achieving the successes of the navigators: Persevering in difficulty, unappalled by danger, and patient under distress, they scarcely ever use the language of complaint, much less that of despair; and sometimes, when all human hope seems at its lowest ebb, they furnish the most beautiful examples of that firm reliance on a merciful and superintending Providence, which is the only rational source of true fortitude in man. [This follows a paragraph in which Brown talks about the superstitions of sailors!]Often, with their narratives impressed upon my mind, and surrounded by the very difficulties which they in their frail and inefficient barks undauntedly encountered and overcame, have I been tempted to exclaim, with all the enthusiasm of Purchas:

“ ‘How shall I admire your heroic courage,

Ye marine worthies, beyond names of worthiness?’ ”

[Brown’s work concludes with appendices of a time line of Voyages towards the North Pole (starting with John Cabot in 1496); a “List of Works on Arctic Subjects” (p. 448-52); and a helpful index.

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