Narrative of an Expedition to the Polar Sea, in the Years 1820, 1821, 1822, & 1823. Commanded by Lieutenant, Now Admiral, Ferdinand von Wrangell…

Gives introductory summary of prior expeditions to Northeast and Siberia, before describing Wrangell’s expedition across the entire Northern coast of Siberia, as based on Wrangell’s journals, edited by Sabine, and translated from German by Mrs. Sabine. This journey takes place at the same time as Franklin’s land journey. The travel route was St Petersburgh, Moscow, the Urals, Irkutsk, to the Lena and then by river both to the north, Siberia & Jakuzk, with a view to studying the inland fur trade. The work is a combination of geography, anthropology, and adventure.

Later in his life he led a world circumnavigation aboard Krotky (1815-27; from 1829to 1835 he was governor of Russian settlements in the Northwest; directed the Russian American Company through the 1840s; and retired in 1864.

p. cxxxvii: In publishing this narrative, I have had no other object in view, than to extend the geographical knowledge of those regions; to correct previously-existing errors; and by a plain statement of what we have done, to make ourselves useful to those who may come after.

p. 14, in St. Petersburgh: The inhabitants are not in an advanced state of intellectual cultivation: books are extremely rare; education is but little thought of; children usually pass the first years of their infancy with a Jakuti nurse, from whom they learn so much of her native language, that I often found the conversation of persons in the best society very difficult to understand. As the children grow up, they learn a little reading & writing from the priests. They are gradually initiated into the mysteries of the Siberian fur-trade, or obtain places under government. Their hospitality is proverbial, but as there are usually but few strangers, they can for the most part only exercise it towards each other.

p. 24, among the Jakuti: The Jakuti have almost all been baptized; a part of the New Testament, the Ten Commandments, and several of the Rules of the Church, have been translated into their language, but as yet the greater number have no idea of the principles and doctrines of Christianity; and their Schamans, and the superstition of heathenism, retain their hold upon their minds.

p. 121-22, on the Tschukschi: A great number of Tschuktschi have been baptized, but it must be admitted that they are as complete heathens as ever, and have not the slightest idea of the doctrines or spirit of Christianity. A priest from Nishne Kolymsk attends the fair, and is ready to baptize those who present themselves, which they are induced to do solely to obtain the presents which it is customary to make them on the occasion. No instruction is given them, and it is scarcely possible that any should be, so long as their present wandering mode of life continues. Their language, which is not understood by the priests, offers a no less formidable difficulty. The St. Petersburgh Bible Society attempted the translation of the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and, if I am not mistaken, one of the Gospels, into the Tschukschi dialect, printed in Russian characters; but partly from the language being entirely deficient in words to express new and abstract ideas; and partly for want of letters to represent the strange and uncouth sounds of which the language itself consists, I was assured by all who could form an opinion on the subject, that the version was wholly unintelligible.

p. 386-87, towards the end of their return journey to St. Petersburgh: I staid at the house of M. Gorochow, a merchant; and my surprise and pleasure were great on seeing their a good-sized, neat, and clean room, with regular windows, a handsome fire-place, some prints, and a small book-case, containing a collection of our best authors. It was years since I had seen any book, except the very few that I had brought with me.