The U.S. Grinnell Expedition in Search of Sir John Franklin: A Personal Memoir

Kane was surgeon aboard the Advance, under the command of Edwin De Haven. The search did find the three graves at Beechey Island, but DeHaven felt the voyage to be ineffectual. Kane went on to command the second Grinnell expedition in 1853.

p. 16, apropos his journal: My apology must be, that I do not profess to be accurate, but truthful.

p. 26, Kane describing his cabin berth: Two little wooden shelves held my scanty library, a third supported a reading lamp, or, upon occasion, a Berzilius’ argand [an oil lamp], to be lighted when the dampness made an increase of heat necessary…. My ink-bottle was suspended, pendulum fashion, from a hook…. [Those were the conditions for writing the journals on which this book is based.]

p. 33—reference to “Old Cranz” and his History of Greenland

p. 45: The incumbent [Danish inspector in Godhaven], Mr Olrik, was an accomplished and hospitable gentleman, well read in the natural sciences….

p. 66: reference to Prof Agassiz

p. 67: An iceberg is one of God’s own buildings, preaching its lessons of humility to the miniature structures of man.

p. 119— Kane dismisses the myth of the poisonous liver of the Polar bear, though notes that it was accepted by Fabricius, Richardson, and Parry among others.

p. 139: reference to books by Saussure, Bier & Parry.

p. 236, November 20, 1850. 11 a.m.: Can read newspaper print by going to open daylight, i.e., twilight—the twilight of a foggy sunrise at home.

p. 239-40, November 20: I have been for some evenings giving lectures on topics of popular science, the atmosphere, the barometer &c., to the crew. They are not a very intellectual audience, but they listen with apparent interest, and express themselves gratefully.

p. 245, December 1: It is Sunday: We have had religious service, as usual, and after it that relic of effete absurdity, the reading of the ‘Rules and Regulations.’

p. 248, December 4, Wednesday: …The southern horizon was a zone of red light; and although the clear blue absorbed it, we could read small print with a little effort at noonday by turning the book to the south.

p. 249: December 7, Saturday. The danger which surrounds us is so immediate, that in the bustle of preparation for emergency I could not spend a moment upon my journal. Now the little knapsack is made up again, and the blanket sewed and strapped. The little home Bible at hand, and the ice-clothes ready for a jump.

p. 268-69: December 25. ‘Ye Christmas of ye Arctic cruisers!’…and then we sang Negro songs, wanting only tune, measure, and harmony, but abounding in noise; and after a closing bumper to Mr. Grinnell, adjourned with credible jollity from table to the theatre. [Play was The Blue Devils]: None knew their parts, and the prompter could not read glibly enough to do his office. Every thing, whether jocose, or indignant, or commonplace, or pathetic, was delivered in a high-tragedy monotone of despair; five words at a time, or more or less, according to the facilities of the prompting.

p. 295, Jan. 30, 1851, celebrating ‘el regresado del sol’ with theatricals in the Arctic Theatre. Play was “The Countryman’s first Visit to Town,” followed by a Pantomime. Page gives a facsimile of the playbill.

p. 338: March 23. Sunday. After divine service, started for the ice-openings.