An Arctic Boat Journey, in the Autumn of 1854

Hayes participated in Charles Hall’s 1854 attempt to reach the North Pole, and contributed a couple of versions of his account before completing this 1860 version, closely following publication of Hayes’s The Open Polar Sea.

p. 154: Every one, except Mr. Sonntag, smoked his pipe; and those who kept journals embraced the opportunity to make spasmodic entries;– for the fingers and the pencil could not long keep company. Petersen had a sly joke for us now and then; and Bonsall entertained us from time to time with some original drollery.

p. 154, October 5, 1854: Our bedding, bad yesterday, is infinitely worse to-day; and, inactive as we are, we have a hard task to keep cheerful, with starvation staring us in the face. Were we doing something, this tormenting ghost could be frightened off. Bonsall has a copy of Ivanhoe, with which I spend the morning.

p. 183: The men smoothed the bedclothes on the north side of the hut; and Sonntag, Bonsall, and myself took turns with them in a game of whist, and in reading some chapters from “The Fair Maid of Perth.” The genial warmth of Scott was felt in that snow-imbedded hut, and our faces expressed the interest excited by his tale.

p. 188, October 30th: One of my little household gods is “David Copperfield;” and I spent the evening reading aloud of the early struggles of the widow’ son.

p. 209-10, while living near Esquimaux and nourished by tripe de roche: The hours hung wearily on our hands. Our usual joint resources failed us. With our mittened fingers we could not manage the cards which had, heretofore, been one of our sure means of diversion. The circumstances were too depressing for us to feel our ordinary interest in reading aloud, or in listening; and the time was passed mainly in silence. Yet never had I appreciated the value of books as I then did. Bonsall’s copy of ‘Waverley’ was an unfailing friend. Upon leaving the brig I had selected from the narrow shelf which held the little library that I had learned to love so well during the last long winter, three small books, which I thrust into my already crowded clothes-bag. They were the before-mentioned volume of Dickens, the “In Memoriam,” and a small pocket-Bible; all parting gifts from kind friends to me when leaving home; and all doubly precious,–for themselves, and for the memories they recalled. They had become thoroughly water-soaked when the Ironsides filled off Cape Alexander; but I had dried them in the sun; and although they were torn, and their backs were loose, there was no part lost. I kept them under my head as helps for a pillow, and for their companionship.

I had brought, beside, two volumes of “Anatomy” and one of “Practice,” as the most convenient form in which to carry waste paper; for lighting fires. Nearly all of the “Anatomy” had been consumed during the journey down the coast; but I had saved the “nerves” and the “muscles;” and, in retracing the ramifications of the one, and the attachments of the other, I passed cheerfully many an hour that would otherwise have weighed heavily upon me. He “Practice” was now being fast sacrificed; but I got a start on the cooks, and kept ahead of them.