Nova Zembla (1596-1597). The Barents Relics, Recovered in the Summer of 1876, by Charles L. W. Gardiner, Esq. and Presented to the Dutch Government.

Preface by translator: The first discoveries of vestiges of the Barents Voyage were made by Capt. Elling Carlsen in 1871, the first to enter Ice Haven since Barents in 1596. Discoveries were made on Sept. 9 and 11, 1871. He found the Barents “Behouden-huis” or house of safety and some relics, but was intent on circumnavigating the island. The 80 items described in de Jonge’s first report (see the 1873 Hakluyt volume on Barents’ voyages) included some books bought by an English tourist, Ellis C. Lister Kay, but the Dutch government went after them, and obtained them for the same price. They were placed in the Naval Department at the Hague where a replica of the house (with open front) houses the relics.

A second visit on 17 Aug 1875 by Norwegian captain Gundersen at ice harbor yielded a journal, two charts, a grapnel with broken hooks, and some charts in bad shape. The journal was a Dutch translation of Pet and Jackman [given by Hakluyt to Barents?].

Charles Gardiner’s visit to Ice Harbor was July 29, 1876. The translator of this lengthy preface, S.R. Van Campen, May 14, 1877, saw this as a good moment for Holland to return to Arctic exploration into the breach left by the withdrawal of England which needed its navy for war, not peaceful research.

Intro. is followed by de Jonge’s account of the relics, p. 33ff.

p. 36 discusses the journal of Lt. Beynen on Glowworm , July 29, 1876: After a hard day’s work among the ruins we brought to light a good many relics, among which is a Bible in tolerable state of preservation. Many other writings we find, but they are merely pulp, and in a thousand pieces…. All these things are immensely interesting, having been lying here 280 years, exposed to all the vicissitudes of an Arctic climate.

p. 38ff, objects found by MR. Gardiner 29 July-Aug. 2 1876, included “Fragments of manuscript found in powder-horn—Chs. G.”: In this letter-bag was found a folded, or, rather, pressed together, and crumpled piece of paper, the parts of which adhered together, turned to a yellowish green on the right hand by oxide of copper, the paper woolly, and on the folds entirely consumed, the whole presenting an unsightly appearance …. On holding up a bit of the paper one saw distinctly that it had been written upon. Alternately frozen and thawed during 279 years between the ice and the ruins of the narrowly-enclosed house, the folded leaf was stretched out on one side and shrunken in on the other; the upper part stuck to the under part, and the whole pressed into one solid mass.

With the aid of Mr. J. H. Hingman, chief assistant to the Royal Archivist in the department of charters…the work was undertaken. We together, by cautious management, succeeded in loosening the compressed paper, and in gradually unfolding it—thawing it, I should almost have said—after having held it alternately over the steam of boiling water and alcohol, and then between the folds of dampened paper. Although naturally portions of the paper were consumed, still our efforts were rewarded beyond expectation, for after two days of patient working, the manuscript lay before us so far unfolded as to render it possible to decipher the greater part….

p. 49, concerning a printed hymn-book: I did after all intend trying to loosen the adhering pages when I was justly and opportunely reminded of what M. Flament, formerly librarian of the Royal Library, used to say of old books in such a state, but in a way only too plastic, ‘Il vaut mieux les laissez toujours morveaux que leur arrocher le nez!’ [“It is better to leave some mucous rather than to detach the nose.”] I therefore left the little volume in the state in which it came back from the Ice Haven.

p. 53 notes the remains of a Dutch-French dictionary, and several other texts.

[De Jonge was Deputy Royal Archivist and he ends with a bit of jingoism, the pity that these sacred relics were found not by a Dutchman but by Mr. Gardiner]: p. 69: We owe the possession of these objects to the spirit of enterprise and the generosity of foreigners.