This large volume neatly combines two works, the first a general history of arctic exploration up to the Hall expedition (Sargent) with an early hagiography of Hall, or in Parry’s words, a “massive whitewash” .
p. 37, on Barentz expedition: They lost one of their number on the 26th; he had long been ill; they dug a grave seven feet in the snow; and then, as is mournfully recorded, “after that we had read certaine chapters and sung some psalmes, we all went out and buried the man.” As the days lengthened, the light enabled them to take exercise, though the weather still remained as severe as before.
p. 55, on relics of Barentz expedition: The huts were still there, just as Barentz had left them nearly three hundred years before. In the rude hearth lay the relics of the long extinguished fire. Upon the shelf were books from the old Dutchman’s library—a work on navigation, the latest edition published before he had sailed, and a history of China translated into Dutch. Jugs and dishes, wherein had been prepared the drink and food of the adventurers, were scattered here and there, and even a pair of shoes were found which had belonged to a little cabin boy, who, as says the records, had died upon the voyage. There were also quaint engravings, and a curious mathematical instrument intended to assist in obtaining longitude. All these articles were carefully collected, and were carried to Europe on Carlsen’s return.
p. 390, on winter occupations of the Bellot and Kennedy expedition in February 1852: They had a good library on board, and spent much of their time in reading. The doctor kept school, and the crew would often sit in groups, listening to his discourses, or employed in making flannel socks, canvas jackets, and other useful articles.
p. 511: The collections of natural history the party were reluctantly compelled to leave behind, and part of the apparatus for observations, as well as the library of the commander, and the books furnished by the government and Mr. Grinnell for the use of the vessel. Nothing was retained but the documents of the expedition.
p. 534-38, finding the abandoned Resolute and its subsequent adventures: In the month of September, 1855, the whaler George Henry, Captain Buddington, of New London, Connecticut, was drifting along, beset by the ice, in Baffin’s Bay, when one morning the captain, looking through his glass, saw a large ship some fifteen or twenty miles distant, apparently working her way towards him. Day after day, while helplessly imprisoned in the pack, he watched her coming nearer and nearer. On the seventh day, the mate, Mr. Quail, and three men, were sent to find out what she was.
After a hard day’s journey over the ice,—jumping from piece to piece, and pushing themselves along on isolated cakes,—they were near enough to see that she was lying on her larboard side, firmly imbedded in the ice. They shouted lustily, as soon as they got within hailing distance; but there was no answer. Not a soul was to be seen. For one moment, as they came along side, the men faltered, with a superstitious feeling, and hesitated to go on board. A moment after, they had
climbed over the broken ice, and stood on deck. Everything was stowed away in order—spars hauled up and lashed to one side, boats piled together, hatches calked down. Over the helm, in letters of brass, was inscribed the motto “England expects every man to do his duty.” But there was no man to heed the warning.
The whalemen broke open the companion-way, and descended into the cabin. All was silence and darkness. Groping their way to the table, they found matches and candles, and struck a light. There were decanters and glasses on the table, chairs and lounges standing around, books scattered about—everything just as it had been last used. Looking curiously from one thing to another, wondering what this deserted ship might be, at last they came upon the log-book. It was endorsed, “Bark Resolute, 1st September, 1853, to April, 1854.” One entry was as follows: “H. M. S. Resolute, l7th January, 1854, nine a. m.—Mustered by divisions. People taking exercise on deck. Five p. m.—Mercury frozen.”
This told the story. It was Captain Kellett’s ship, the Resolute, which had broken away from her icy prison, and had thus fallen into the hands of our Yankee whalemen.
While the men were making these discoveries, night came on, and a gale arose. So hard did it blow that they were compelled to remain on board, and for two days these four were the whole crew of the Resolute. It was not till 19th September that they returned to their own ship, and made their report.
All these ten days, since Captain Buddington had first seen her, the vessels had been nearing each other. On the 19th he boarded her himself, and found that in her hold, on the larboard side, was a good deal of ice. Her tanks had burst, from the extreme cold; and she was full of water, nearly to her lower deck. Everything that could move from its place had moved. Everything between decks was wet; everything that would mould was mouldy. “A sort of perspiration” had settled on the beams and ceilings. The whalemen made a fire in Kellett’s stove, and soon started a sort of shower from the vapor with which it filled the air. The Resolute had, however, four fine force-pumps. For three days the captain and six men worked fourteen hours a day on one of these, and had the pleasure of finding that they freed her of water,—that she was tight still. They cut away upon the masses of ice; and on the 23d of September, in the evening, she freed herself from her encumbrances, and took an even keel. This was off the west shore of Baffin’s Bay, in latitude 67°. On the shortest tack, she was twelve hundred miles from where Kel- lett left her.
There was work enough still to be done. The rudder was to be shipped, the rigging to be made taut, sail to be set;—and it proved, by the way, that the sail on the yards was much of it still serviceable, while a suit of new linen sails below were greatly injured by moisture. In a week more, she was ready to make sail. The pack of ice still drifted with both ships; but, on the 21st October, after a long north-west gale, the Resolute was free.
Capt. Buddington had resolved to bring her home. He had picked ten men from the George Henry, and with a rough tracing of the American coast, drawn on a sheet of foolscap, with his lever watch and a quadrant for his instruments, he squared off for New London. A rough, hard passage they had of it. The ship’s ballast was gone, by the bursting of the tanks; she was top-heavy and undermanned. He spoke a British whaling-bark, and by her sent to Captain Kellett his epaulets, and to his own owners news that he was coming. They had heavy gales and head
were driven as far down as the Bermudas. The water left in the ship’s tanks was brackish, and it needed all the seasoning which the ship’s chocolate would give to make it drinkable. “For sixty hours at a time,” says the captain, “I frequently had no sleep;” but his perseverance was crowned with success, at last, and, on the night of the 23d of December, he made the light off the harbor from which he sailed, and on Sunday morning, the 24th, dropped anchor in the Thames, opposite New London, and ran up the British ensign on the shorn masts of the Resolute.
Her subsequent history is fresh in the minds of our readers. The British government generously released all their claim in favor of the salvors. Thereupon, Congress resolved that the vessel should be purchased and restored as a present to her majesty from the American people. This design was fully carried out. The Resolute was taken to the dry-dock in Brooklyn, and there put in complete order. Everything on board—even the smallest article—was replaced as nearly as possible in its original position; and, at length, having been manned and officered from the United States navy, and placed under the command of Captain Hartstein, the Resolute, stanch and sound again, from stem to stern, “with sails all set and streamers all afloat,” once more shaped her course for England, where she arrived in December, 1856, and was presented to Queen Victoria with appropriate ceremonies.
p.548, on finding some Franklin relics: Lieut, Hobson continued his journey southward along the western shore of King William’s Land, but made no further discovery until he reached lat. 69° 9′ N., and long. 99° 27′ W., when he noticed what appeared to be two sticks peering above the frozen snow. Struck with their singularity in this barbarous region, he was led to examine them more closely, and was rewarded by finding that these “sticks” were in fact the awning stancheons of a boat buried in the snow; and on clearing around it, the ghastly spectacle of two human skeletons presented itself. One of these lay in the after part of the boat, under a pile of clothing; the other, which was much more disturbed, probably by animals, was found in the bow. Five pocket watches, a quantity of silver spoons and forks, and a few religious books, were also found, but no journals, pocket-books, or even names upon any articles of clothing. Two double-barreled guns stood upright against the boat’s side, precisely as they had been placed eleven years before. One barrel in each was loaded and cocked. There was ammunition in abundance, also thirty or forty pounds of chocolate, and some tea and tobacco. Fuel was not wanting; a drift tree lay within a hundred yards of the boat. It appears that this boat had been intended for the ascent of the Fish River, but was abandoned apparently upon a return journey to the ships, the sledge upon which she was mounted being pointed in that direction. She measured twenty-eight feet in length by seven and a half feet wide, was most carefully fitted, and made as light as possible, but the sledge was of solid oak, and almost as heavy as the boat.
p. 562 The few Franklin books recovered of the 3000 aboard the two ships: The books recovered are very few; they would, of course, succumb early to the rigors of exposure,—but there is still well preserved a small edition of the ‘Vicar of Wakefield,’ some religious poetry, and a French Testament, on the fly-leaf of which is written, in a delicate female hand, ‘From your attached (the appellation is obliterated) S. M. P.’
p. 569, on Hall’s early life: He evinced a fondness for books of travel and adventure in early boyhood. Having been put to the trade of engraving, he devoted his spare change to procuring, and his spare moments to reading, works of this class. He early became an ardent sharer in the interest in the then uncertain fate of Sir John Franklin, and in 1850 began to look forward to taking an active part in the search for him and his party, or at least for some certain information concerning them. It was about this time that the first Grinnell expedition was in course of fitting out, and the popular interest was intense throughout this country and indeed in all parts of the civilized world. Hall, during the next decade, became not only an enthusiastic student, but devoted every moment of leisure at his command to acquainting himself with all that was known in regard to polar matters; and being of active mind, he made his own deductions, formed his own opinions, and matured his own plans.
p. 641, on Hall’s first winter with the Esquimaux: Thus, in a short time, our friends found themselves quite comfortable, with a good house, plenty of warm clothing and a sufficient supply of food, which, if not the best, was palatable and wholesome. The general health was excellent, and every one was cheerful. Time did not hang so drearily upon them as might have been anticipated, though hunting and other like pastime appeared impracticable, and they were restricted to reading (and this embraced no large supply or variety of reading matter), chess, draughts, cards and spinning “yarns.”