The author was ship’s doctor under Captain Forsyth on this expedition sponsored by Lady Franklin.
p. viii: My present excellent publishers, too, kindly added to my intellectual enjoyments during the voyage by a timely present of some useful books*;….” [Footnote]: *Amongst others, I ought not to omit to mention the last edition of “Reece’s Medical Guide,” a work which I found invaluable, not only to myself, but to all on board, especially where we had no regular surgeon.”
p. ix, thanks John Barrow, son of Sir John Barrow: To him I am much beholden for many important hints and useful papers, and especially so for the liberal supply of books which he sent on board the ‘Prince Albert.’
p. 11: The Christian Knowledge Society also, at the request of Lady Franklin, sent on board a collection of books: and one individual alone, John Barrow, Esq., of the Admiralty, the son of Sir John Barrow, furnished, besides a handsome subscription to the fund, a perfect little library of most useful and interesting works. To this gentleman especially was the “Prince Albert” and her crew much indebted, and I cannot help taking this opportunity of publicly offering him my thanks.
p. 19, on being assigned as untrained surgeon on the ship: A good medicine chest and Medical Guide was all that the skipper of those ships deemed necessary. With M’Arthur’s excellent little book of directions, Reece’s invaluable Medical Guide, and the humble skill I myself possessed I thought all would be well.
I must confess that afterwards, on cool reflection, I felt I had done wrong in taking upon me such a heavy responsibility…; but I determined to devote more and more attention to the study of the subject, and be always prepared for any emergencies that might arise. The broad sheet published by Dr. Alfred Smee in cases of accidents, &c., was pasted up conspicuously in the surgery, and another of a similar kind sent by the Christian Knowledge Society was rarely out of my pocket; while all my medical books were arranged at home, and particular pages turned down where important cases were treated of….
p. 24-25: Bibles and Prayer-books had been liberally furnished by the Christian Knowledge Society, and were given to the men immediately upon our getting to sea. A printed prayer, written by a clergyman of the Church of England, was distributed by Lady Franklin, who had written upon it each man’s name. The form was often read; but I believe the men valued it most for the handwriting upon it, and the source whence it came.”
p. 41-2: Thursday 20th, Friday 21st. During the forenoon, I was enabled to examine a large case containing newspapers and printed scraps, that had hitherto been on deck, exposed to the seas, from having no room below to place it. Of course, nearly all the papers were wetted sorely, and it took me many days thoroughly to dry them. My object in bringing so large a supply of newspapers may be briefly stated. I have often, myself, when at sea, felt the greatest delight from perusing a journal, however old it might be; and I was convinced that during the long winter sojourn that we anticipated, many, if not all of those I now brought with me, would prove most acceptable. I had, too, weekly papers for the past four or five years, and these, I thought would be gladly perused by those who had been so long absent from their native land, should be fortunate enough to fall in with them. Our worthy friend ‘Punch,’ and the ‘Illustrated London News,’ would come in most amusingly to us when we had nought else to do, during the long dark nights we should experience; and of these I had two or three volumes. My budget of scraps was a complete omnium gatherum of literary and general information. I used to con them over after some extra fatigue for an hour or two or an evening; and when I felt myself unable to read a book of any kind, I could turn to these, and be well amused with them. They were not too long and prosy, not too short and unmeaning; but, as a whole, full of interest and edification. These scraps, then, with my newspapers, I took due care of, looking forward to the time when all hands would, as I felt assured, fully appreciate their value.
p. 117—long quote from Dr. Scoresby on the Arctic regions, suggesting Snow may have had it aboard.
p. 281: I rushed from the beach back to the tent, where I found the men still asleep; even Rae had cast aside his book, and allowed nature’s claims to overpower his passion for reading.
p. 285: Before this, however, I had been employing myself in rambling about. In one place I found, singularly enough, a bit of ‘Punch,’ showing that even to this, the very farthest and most lonely spot of the earth, has our facetious and ever witty friend found his way.