Burn accompanied the Franklin’s on this apparently epochal journey through what are evidently difficult terrain, weather, and rivers. Burn kept a travel diary of the experience with full respect for the Governor General and his wife. Most interesting is his account of Franklin as preacher: p. 15, Sunday, 3rd May 1842: By 8 A.M., every tent, save Lady Franklin’s, had been struck, most of the knapsacks packed, and breakfast speedily thereafter dispatched. His Excellency very shortly summoned the men, and in a thrilling tone of most impressive earnestness, read the morning service, to which he added a short but very striking sermon on the edict of Darius which consigned Daniel to the den of lions. In many a gorgeous temple have I listed to the soul-reviving promises of the Scriptures, but I much question if ever the language of sacred truth was more generally or attentively heard, than whilst delivered amid drizzling rain in the wild bush, to some who had proved most reckless violators of their country’s laws [20 convicts were on the journey as carriers and palanquin-bearers]. May the truths of that holy hour live in their hearts, and sanctify our own. The weather becoming worse and worse, with every indication of an unfavourable continuance, Lady Franklin, too, remaining considerably indisposed, the tents were once more pitched, and our quarters reoccupied for the dreary uncomfortable day.
p. 22, Sunday, 10th: To attempt religious service was impossible.
p. 29, Sunday, 17th: Such was the dilemma, and so urgent the necessity, that religious duty was forced to give place to manual labour.
p. 48, Sunday, May 1st: The wind blew fiercer and fiercer, and it became evident that all the labour to be performed this day, had already been achieved. At 3, therefore, his Excellency assembled the people on the quarter deck, delivering the evening service, in his strikingly impressive manner, after which he read a chapter from a religious volume, entitled, “The Ocean Illustrated”—a treatise which was listened to with marked attention, and which, through God’s mercy, may be productive of much benefit.
p. 52, Sunday, 8th: Every prospect of the relief ship vanished; and although we did not despond, we felt the pangs of hope deferred. The little chapel on the quarter-deck was put in order, and his Excellency, with the earnest and impressive piety—the distinguishing feature of this truly good man and exemplary Christian—performed service, and read a Sermon on the dry bones of Ezekiel, chapter 37, and 9th verse. As usual, the auditory proved a most attentive one; indeed it has never been my lot to listen to any reader who so completely enchains his hearer; the devout and forcible manner of Sir John Franklin’s delivery, exciting the most marked attention. I humbly pray God that the good seed which has been so zealously sown in the course of this brief pilgrimage, may not have fallen either upon the rock, or amidst briars; but that it may spring up to the peace and joy of many here, and to the eternal happiness of all.
p. 56, Sunday, 15th: Sir John read service in his wonted impressive style, giving us that most appropriate psalm, the 107th.