HMS Investigator was one of the ships assigned to the western end of the as yet undiscovered Northwest Passage in the search for Franklin and the hope that his expedition had made it through. By confusion or arrangant independence the Investigator proceeded without its companion ship HMS Enterprise, commanded by Richard Collinson. Caught by the ice, it returned to Hong Kong while Investigator headed eastward into the Passage. The ship spent the next three winters in winter quarters until April of 1854 when the men were found by a rescue team from HMS Resolute and they escaped to the east leaving the ship abandoned. One positive outcome, despite several deaths, was that the voyage definitively established the existence of the Northwest Passage’
p. xi, preface to first edition: The Editor has not indulged in wholesale praise, for it was no part of his task to write up every man as a hero who sailed into the Arctic Seas and out again. Indiscriminate commendation is loathsome to all rightminded men; and it would be poor reward indeed to those whose tale of suffering and gallantry is recounted in the following pages, to compare their successes with the failures as rife in the Arctic Seas as elsewhere. [It might be fair to say that the Editor is indiscriminate in his praise for Barrow, and not devoid of purple passages (cf. p. 103 on annexing territory for Queen Victoria.]
p. xxx, sailing orders for the expedition issued to Collinson on the Enterprise: We have desired that you shall be furnished, not only with a copy of the orders under which commander Moore is now acting, but also with copies of all the orders which from time to time have been given to Captain Kellett, as well as with those under which an attempt was made to relieve, the “Erebus” and “Terror” by Captain Sir James Ross on the eastern side through Baffin’s Bay. You will further be supplied with all the printed voyages or travels in those northern regions; and the memoranda and instructions drawn up by Sir John Richardson, as to the manners and habits of the Esquimaux, and the best mode of dealing with that people (a copy of which is also sent), will afford a valuable addition to the information now supplied to you. [A footnote on p. 89 says that McClure was not supplied with the “needful books of Arctic Discovery”; perhaps the ones mentioned here only went to the Enterprise and Collinson.]
p. xxxii: …we conclude these orders with an earnest hope that Providence may crown your efforts with success, and that they may be the means of dispelling the gloom and uncertainty which now prevail respecting the missing Expedition. [Jan. 15, 1850]
p. 54, implies that he had a copy of Wrangel’s ‘Polar Voyages’ to compare to some discovered land.
p. 77, on morality among the natives: … but it is amusing, in reading over the journals of the officers…to find such a passage as the following:—“These children of nature, inhabitants of one of her most desolate regions, appeared free from vice! And evinced the liveliest marks of gratitude for the trifling presents we made them!” How much such amiable forbearance, even in the passing of judgment upon these creatures, tell us of the tender-heartedness of this body of resolute men! They found a pleasure even in communicating with the veriest savages on earth as a relief to the monotony of the voyage; and probably the anticipation of success already threw its sunshine over everything they saw.
p. 433, on entertainments with the natives: In this they had, in some degree anticipated my intentions, as the officers were at the same time engaged in printing a notice for the lower deck of a “Native Dance,” intended to be given in three days’ time, with the view of showing them we bore no ill-will, and wished for a friendly intercourse; and as it was to be the commencement of our winter festivities, and headed “Great Novelty,” it had the desired effect of producing amusement amongst the crew.
p. 452: In order to impress upon them [the Esquimaux] the value of such things as papers and messages, I gave the man a considerable present of tobacco, very much to his surprise and that of his companions, which had the effect of producing an old American song book, the only article of paper remaining in their possession.