The Polar Regions, Or a Search after Sir John Franklin’s Expedition…

This deals with the 1850 Franklin search by the Intrepid and Pioneer, in company with Resolute and Assistance, with Osborn as Commander of the Pioneer. "Account, by the commander of the "Pioneer", one of the tenders to the Resolute and Assistance, of the Franklin search expedition under Capt. H. T. Austin: the voyage by Baffin Bay, Lancaster Sound, Barrow Strait, the wintering at Griffith Island, and return. Includes informative notes on West Greenland Eskimos, negotiating the ice of northern Baffin Bay, ice conditions in the Canadian Arctic waters, hunting adventures, clothing, food and equipment (for sledge journeys and otherwise), carrier pigeons, the sledge journeys, arctic nature and winter recreations." (Description on ABEBooks)

p. 58: Hope is not prophecy! And so they will find who labour in the North….

p. 63-4: On the morning of the 20th we were again beset, and a south gale threatened to increase the pressure; escape was, however, impossible, and “Fear not, but trust in Providence” is a necessary motto for Arctic seamen. My faith in this axiom was soon put to the proof.

p. 86-96, gives Osborn’s account of the finding of Franklin’s Beechey Island (1846-7) camps, graves, and other relics by Resolute, Assistance, Pioneer, Intrepid, and others.

p. 99, after a passage on migration of whales: It was a subject of deep interest and wonder to see this migration of animal life, and I determined, directly leisure would enable me, to search the numerous books with which we were well stored, to endeavour to satisfy my mind with some reasonable theory, founded upon the movements of bird and fish, as to the existence of a Polar ocean or a Polar continent.

p. 119-20: A Prayer for the Arctic Expedition

“O Lord God, our Heavenly Father, who teachest man knowledge, and givest him skill and power to accomplish his designs, we desire continually to wait, and call, and depend upon Thee. Thy way is in the sea, and Thy paths in the great waters. Thou rulest and commandest all things. We therefore draw nigh unto Thee for help in the great work which we now have to do.

“Leave us not, we beseech Thee, to our own counsel, nor to the imaginations of our own foolish and deceitful hearts: but lead us by the way wherein we should go, that discretion may preserve us, and understanding may keep us. Do Thou, O Lord, make our way prosperous, and give us Thy blessing and good success. Bring all needful things to our remembrance; and where we have not the presence of mind, nor the ability, to perform Thy will, magnify Thy power in our weakness. Let Thy good providence be our aid and protection, and Thy Holy Spirit our Guide and Comforter, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul. Endue us with such strength and patience as may carry us through every toil and danger, whether by sea or land; and, if it be Thy good pleasure, vouchsafe to us a safe return to our families and homes.

“And, as Thy Holy Word teaches us to pray for others, as well as for ourselves, we most humbly beseech Thee, of Thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succour all those who are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity, especially such as may not be exposed to the dangers of the deep, or afflicted with cold and hunger. Bestow upon them Thy rich mercies, according to their several wants and necessities, and deliver them out of their distress. They are known to Thee by name, let them be known of Thee as the children of Thy grace and love. Bless us all with Thy favour, in which is life, and with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus; and grant us so to pass the waves of this troublesome world, that finally we may come unto Thy everylasting kingdom. Grant this, for Thy dear Son’s sake, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

p. 120-21: While touching on a religious point connected with our expedition, I must say, that as yet we have not in the Navy a single good set of sermons adapted to interest and instruct the seamen. The commander, or commanding officer, of a man-of-war usually reads, in the absence of the chaplain, the Divine Service on Sundays. We, of course, did not fail to do so; but I never saw an English sailor who would sit down and listen attentively to the discussion of some knotty text, exhibiting far more ingenuity on the part of some learned commentator, than simplicity and clearness adapted to plain, uninformed minds: in a future expedition, and, indeed, in the Navy generally, it is to be hoped this deficiency will be remedied. Sermons in the pure and Christian like tone of Porteus’s Lent Lectures, I would humbly recommend as a guide for those who may be inclined to take the good work in hand.

p. 121-22: A theatre, a casino, and a saloon, two Arctic newspapers, one of them an illustrated one, evening-schools, and instructive lectures, gave no one an excuse for being idle. …

Here, editors floundered through a leader, exhibiting French ingenuity, in saying their say without bringing themselves within the grasp of the censors; here, rough contributors, whose hands, more accustomed to the tar-brush than the pen, turned flowing sentences by the aid of old miscellanies and well-thumbed dictionaries. There, on wooden stools, leaning over long tables, were a row of serious and anxious faces, which put one in mind of the days of cane and birch,–an Arctic school. Tough old marines curving “pothooks and hangers,” as if their very lives depended on their performances, with an occasional burst of petulance, such as “D— the pen, it won’t write! I beg pardon, sir; this ‘ere pen will splutter!” which set the scholars in a roar. Then some big-whiskered top-man, with slate in hand, reciting his multiplication-table, and grinning at approval; whilst a “scholar,” as the cleverest were termed, gave the instructor a hard task to preserve his learned superiority.

p.122, describes the first lieutenant of the Resolute telling sailors of the deeds of their forefathers in these regions: Parry’s glorious pages open by his side, he told those stern men with tender hearts, of the sufferings, the enterprise, the courage, and the reward of imperishable renown exhibited and won by others.

p. 132-33: If it was school night, the voluntary pupils went to their tasks, the masters to their posts; reading men producing their books, writing men their desks, artists painted by candle-light, and cards, chess, or draughts, combined with conversation, and an evening’s glass of grog, and a cigar or pipe, served to bring round bed-time again.

Monotony was our enemy, and to kill time our endeavour: hardships there were none: for all we underwent in winter quarters, in the shape of cold, hunger, or danger, was voluntary. Monotony, as I again repeat, was the only disagreeable part of our wintering at Griffith’s Island. Some men amongst us seemed in their temperament to be much better able to endure this monotony than others: and others who had no source of amusement—such as reading, writing, or drawing—were much to be pitied. Nothing struck one more than the strong tendency to talk of home, and England: it became quite a disease.

p. 134: Some turned their attention to obtaining information for the general good, upon all that related to traveling in frozen regions; others plodded through many a volume, for meteorological information upon which to arrange a safe period of departure for the travelers in the spring….p. 212: Every body who goes to the frozen regions tells of the hairbreadth escapes and imminent dangers attendant on Arctic navigation. I am free to acknowledge, I have “piled the agony” to make my work sell….

p. 215, ends with an exhortation not to doubt the wisdom or courage of Franklin and his men who have done their duty: To rescue even one life were surely well worthy our best endeavours; but if it so please an all-merciful Providence that aid should reach Franklin’s ships too late to save even that one, yet would we have fulfilled a high and imperative duty: and would it be no holy satisfaction to trace the last resting-place of those gallant spirits? to recover the records, there assuredly to be found, of their manly struggle, under hardships and difficulties, in achieving that North-west Passage, in the execution of which they had laid down their lives? and to bring back to their surviving relatives and friends those last kind messages of love, which show that sincere affection and stern sense of duty sprang from one source in their gallant and generous hearts?