McDougall was master of the Resolute, under Captain Henry Kellett to whom the book is dedicated. Quite fascinating journal of the second Arctic voyage of Resolute which ended in abandonment, and rediscovery after its long float. Some of its timber eventually wound up in the President’s White House desk.
p. 17: On looking over Graah’s Greenland, I find he is very decided respecting the current….
p. 28: …honesty and morality of natives” can be “imputed to the beneficial influence of the missionaries.”
p. 80-81, on finding the three graves on Beechey Island: We all felt much surprise at the absence of any document, so contrary to the usual custom of Englishmen, who almost invariably are ambitious of leaving their names in every available place, where knives, or even stones could be brought into play.
p. 82: The day after his arrival, Sir Edward [Belcher] organized an official search for documents relating to the Franklin Expedition. Parties of four men, each commanded by an officer, had particular localities, which were effectually searched but the result tended to prove that nothing had been overlooked by the Expedition of 1850.
p. 85: After speaking in a highly complimentary manner of the past conduct of all comprising the Expedition, he [Belcher] concluded by reading a prayer, composed for this service, of which printed copies were distributed to all who wished to possess them. [I suspect these were printed in advance and brought from England.]
p. 127-28, preparations for wintering: On the 12th, a balloon was despatched with 800 papers attached to a tail of quick-match. The balloon disappeared in a northwesterly direction.* [Footnote: * It is a singular fact that few of the many thousand slips, which must have been scattered in every direction from the balloons despatched on this and Captain Austin’s Expedition, were ever picked up by the travelling parties. I am not myself aware of any having been found.
p. 137, on finding of M’Clure’s Journal of Proceedings (on Investigator, June-Sept. 1850) and chart of discoveries at Winter Harbour, proving the existence of the NW Passage.
p. 142, from McClure’s Journal, following the loss of Investigator:He concludes by stating it to be his intention to return to England (if possible) by Melville Island and Port Leopold, but adds: “If we should not be again heard of, in all probability we shall have been carried into the Polar pack, or to the westward of Melville Island; in either case any attempt to send succour would be to increase the evil, as any ship that enters the Polar pack would be inevitably crushed; therefore a dep ô t of provisions, or a ship at Winter Harbour, is the best and only certainty for the safety of the surviving crews.” [Dated April 12th, 1852.]
p. 159-62, on the first performances at the Theatre Royal, Melville Island, of ‘Charles the Second’ and of ‘Who speaks first.’
p. 162: Amateur theatricals are seldom subjected to severe criticism…; but, in mere justice to those with whom I was associated, it is but fair to add, that in the opinion of all present, the action and delivery would have reflected no discredit on a London stage.
p. 173: My office, in addition to my usual duties, was to prepare printed records, containing the necessary information respecting the whereabouts of ships and provisions; these records were made into a book similar to those in use on board the Thames steamers for tickets. I also made twenty charts of the discoveries up to this period….
p. 178: Tuesday, February 1st.—The curtain of the ‘Theatre Royal’ was raised for the second and last time for the season. The plays selected for the occasion were the well-known farce of ‘Raising the Wind;’ the characters sustained by the ship’s company; and the extravaganza of ‘King Glumpus,’ written by Mr. Barrow, of the Admiralty; the characters in this pieces were undertaken by the officers….
p. 180: I am sure Mr. Barrow would have felt delighted, to have witnessed the pleasure derived from the little interlude, by the whole of the ship’s company of the ‘Resolute,’ for whose amusement it was intended.
p. 300, shows Providence to be a frequent them in this book: …and although we could not but deplore the death of poor Coombes, we were thankful to the Giver of all goodness for His merciful preservation of officers and crew, through hardships and privations, such as can scarcely be conceived, certainly not described.
Another example is on p. 326: It was evident however, that no efforts on our side could improve our prospects. Confiding ourselves therefore, to the All-merciful Providence, whose protecting arm had been extended to each and all, through our adventurous lives, we retired to rest amid the howling of the storm and grating of the ice….
p. 342ff: Second winter in November 1853 brought out theatre again, Garrick’s abridgment of ‘Taming the Shrew’ done by the men, while the officers did the popular farce of ‘The Two Bonnycastles.’
p. 345: ‘Taming the Shrew’ was in one of several volumes of plays, kindly presented to me by a friend.
p. 349: I think I have never yet observed such a studious body of men as are now on board the “Resolute.” I have frequently walked round the deck of an evening for the express purpose of ascertaining their occupations, and have as frequently been gratified to find all employed; most of them reading or writing (for many keep journals), whilst the minority are repairing clothes, and listening to one of their messmates, reading aloud from a library book, stumbling over the hard words, or leaving them out altogether to be filled up by the imagination of his hearers. Navigation, music, and even drawing, have their votaries, and it would indeed be difficult to recognize, in the studious features of our ship’s company, the British sailor of the present day with that described by Dibdin, or imitated by the T. P. Cooke school.
p. 364: On the night of the 10th, I read a second paper on arctic explorations to the officers and crews of ship and tender. The subject-matter was the sufferings of Franklin and his companions, during the truly eventful journey to the polar seas in 1820-23. Forty minutes’ reading (to which I confined myself) gave a very imperfect idea of the misfortunes they experienced, or the misery they endured; but, I confess, I was gratified to observe the unusual interest the seamen evinced, as the narrative advanced, and the terrifying and disheartening incidents increased; and I felt fully rewarded for any little trouble I had taken in its compilation, by the sincere “Thank you, sir,” from the audience.” [The compilation must have relied on the library of the Resolute.]
p. 463, on the restoration of the Resolute and its return to England and the Royal Navy: With such care and attention had the repairs and re-equipment been performed, that not only had the ship’s stores, even to flags, been replaced, but even the officers’ libraries, musical boxes, pictures, &c., had been preserved, and with an excellent taste, which reflects much credit on those who superintended the regulations, had all been restored to their original positions. They are all, I believe, in the storehouses at Chatham.