The Voyage of the Jeannette. The Ship and Ice Journals of George W. De Long, Lieutenant-Commander U.S.N. and Commander of the Polar Expedition of 1879-1881.

Volume I begins with a brief chapter of De Long’s biography.

p. 4: Meanwhile he amused himself with books, the friends which his secluded life had given him, and spent day after day at the Mercantile Library, where he read voraciously, feasting especially upon books of adventure and travel. He attached himself to the librarian, helped him about his duties, and even filled the office for a few months during an interregnum. His restlessness was not satisfied, but was stimulated by his reading, and Captain Marryat and other seductive mariners again gave him an almost uncontrollable longing for the sea.

p. 68: “Requirements for crew [of the Jeannette]: Single men; perfcct health; considerable strength; perfect temperance; cheerfulness; ability to read and write English; prime seamen of course. A musician, if possible. Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes preferred. Avoid English, Scotch, and Irish. Refuse point blank French, Italians, and Spaniards. The steward must be A 1. and not necessarily a seaman. The cook must be a good cook, since he cooks for all hands. Look among recruits in receiving ship to begin with. Pay to be navy pay. Absolute and unhesitating obedience to every order, no matter what it may be. . . . Excuse mv scratchy and jerky way of putting things, but I am wofully hurried,” (See Appendix C.)

p. 193, while beset in the ice: But it is unnatural for us to have this enforced close companionship, and we seem to get in each other’s way. We are warm and comfortable, but we would like to be able to go “somewheres.” We cannot go out and walk in the dark with any object except exercise, and our two hours’ walking match from eleven to one seems to supply enough of that. We read and smoke, and growl at the stove when it does not throw out enough heat, or at the cabin door when it lets in too much cold. The uncertainty of our remaining quiet in the ice for an hour at a time prevents the erection of our observatory, and the taking of interesting astronomical and magnetic observations. We are able to make our hourly meteorological observations only.

p. 200: December 15th, Monday.—An uneventful day. The Snellen type test seems not a good way to obtain even a comparative record of the intensity of our daylight; for whereas we could read a certain kind of type at a distance of twenty feet on the 10th inst., we can today read the same type twenty-seven feet, and yet the circumstances of sky and weather seem exactly the same.

p. 207-08. 1880, January 1st, Thursday: At three p. m. everybody sat down to a capital dinner, and afterward we got ready for the minstrel performance in the evening. Our men had rallied from their failure to get up one for Christmas, and seemed determined to make this entertainment good enough for both occasions. During the day invitations were sent aft, accompanied by programmes. At 8.30 one of the men came to the cabin and invited us into the deck house. Entering, we found a nice little stage erected with drop-curtain, footlights, etc., and tastily decorated with flags. The performance commenced with a minstrel variety, jokes and conundrums sandwiching in with the songs. One conundrum was excellent (pointing to one of the stanchions of the deck-house): “Why is that stanchion like Mr. James Gordon Bennett? Because it supports the house.” Sweetman’s songs were very good, and Kuehne’s violin solo was fine indeed, especially when one takes into consideration the fact that a seaman’s life does not serve to render the fingers supple and delicate. Mr. Cole gave us a jig with all the gravity of a judge. One of the features of the evening was the reading of a prologue composed by Mr. Collins, in which each one of the crew was made the subject of a rhyme in turn. Alexey and Aneguin gave us native dances, and the latter an imitation of a song sung by our Chinamen. The Chinamen gave us their native song, and a sham fight with knives and a pole, winding up by imitating with much contempt Alexey’s and Aneguin’s manner of singing and dancing.

Instead of shadow pictures we had tableaux vivants, “Neptune” (Cole turning a wheel, our broken spare one, mounted on a camp stool); “Sailors mourning over a dead marine” (two sailors mute with grief over an empty brandy-bottle); “A glimpse at Vulcan” (our prize blacksmith, Dressler); “Queen Anne” (Aneguin—Anne Gwyne—Queen Anne); “Is that a bear I see?" (Alexey with dog, aiming at some unseen object); “Mars” (man on crutches); “Taking an observation” (man drinking out of uplifted bottle), were all capital. When, the performance over, we broke up at eleven o’clock, we all felt satisfied alike with the ship, the minstrels, ourselves, and the manner in which we had celebrated the first day of the year of our Lord 1880.

p. 284: As the ship heels 3° to starboard, these little streams run down hill and collect in little puddles on the starboard side, where they are dried up. The ice and frost back of my desk and book-shelves thaw and run down the curved poop to the bulwark, and thence to the deck, where the steward wipes them up as liquid when he can, or breaks them up with an axe and removes them with a shovel otherwise. And yet the ship’s company, as a whole, are healthy, happy, and contented.

p. 382-83: There can be no greater wear and tear on a man’s mind and patience than this life in the pack. The absolute monotony; the unchanging round of hours; the awakening to the same things and the same conditions that one saw just before losing one’s self in sleep; the same faces; the same dogs; the same ice; the same conviction that tomorrow will be exactly the same as to-day, if not more disagreeable; the absolute impotence to do anything, to go anywhere, or to change one’s situation an iota; the realization that food is being consumed and fuel burned with no valuable result, beyond sustaining life; the knowledge that nothing has been accomplished thus far to save this expedition from being denominated an utter failure; all these things crowd in with irresistible force on my reasoning powers each night as I sit down to reflect upon the events of the day. and but for some still small voice within me that tells me this can hardly be the ending of all my labor and zeal, 1 should be tempted to despair.

All our books are read, our stories related; our games of chess, cards, and checkers long since discontinued. When we assemble in the morning at breakfast we make daily a fresh start. Any dreams, amusing or peculiar, are related and laughed over. Theories as to whether we shall eventuallv drift N. E. or N. W. are brought forward and discussed. Seals’ livers as a change of diet are pronounced a success. The temperature of the morning watch is inquired into, the direction and velocity of the wind, and if it is snowing (as it generally is) we call it a “fine summer day.” After breakfast we smoke. Chipp gets a sounding and announces a drift E. S. E. or S. E., as the case may be. We growl thereat. Dunbar and Alexey go off for seals with as many dogs as do not run away from them en route.

p. 409-10, De Long in near despair about the failure of his mission: Some day or other some one, myself perhaps, looking over these pages will complain of their sameness and lack of interest. The popular idea is, no doubt, that the record of daily life in the Arctic regions should be vivid, exciting, and full of hair-breadth escapes, or enjoyable and profitable because of the acquisition of valuable information. If the popular idea is the correct one, how dull and weary and unprofitable will the record of our cruise have been! I confess to so much disappointment and mortification that I am ashamed each day to make an entry in this book, and willingly defer it to the last moments before going to bed. What can I say that has not already been said over and over again? Here we are, held fast in the ice, drifting south instead of north, powerless to change our movement an inch, hoping to-day that to-morrow will bring a change; realizing to-morrow, when it becomes “to-day,” that it is the same as yesterday was; seeing a summer (?) slip by without doing anything to retrieve our reputation or make us worthy of being numbered in the list of Arctic expeditions; full of health and energy, with zeal to dare anything, and yet like captives behind bars: add all these together, as making up the sum of one’s sensations and experiences, and it will be seen that the surroundings are hardly favorable to glowing narrative or absorbing tale.

[In addition, in Volume I there are numerous references to De Long’s reading of the divine service, usually in his cabin.]

Volume II:

p. 448: September 12th, Sunday.—One more week is added to the long and weary round of weeks which records our imprisonment and drift, and we seem as far from liberation as ever. There is nothing I know of more wearing than waiting,—waiting without a chance of relief visible. Are we to be blamed if we find a year of such a life monotonous? Or is it to be wondered at that we do not welcome the beginning of a second year of the same thing? 1 say a second year, but not a last year; for as far as we can see ahead and judge of the future by the past, there is no good reason for this condition of things to change this side of eternity. We may pass away and our ship may be among the things that were, but I calmly believe this icy waste will go on surging to and fro until the last trump blows. But it is a long lane that has no turning, and our troubles may be approaching a relief. I hope they are, for I am becoming weary of the load of cares and anxieties I have so long carried about.

At ten A. M . I inspected the ship, and after this read divine service in the cabin, with Chipp, Melville, Dunbar, and the doctor as my congregation. Although there is no fear of my taking up a collection, a larger attendance is rare.

p. 797, “The Final Search,”

p. 848-62: October 21st, Friday.—One hundred and thirty-first day. Kaack was found dead about midnight between the doctor and myself. Lee died about noon. Read prayers for sick when we found he was going.

October 22d, Saturday.—One hundred and thirty-second day. Too weak to carry the bodies of Lee and Kaack out on the ice. The doctor, Collins, and I carried them around the corner out of sight. Then my eye closed up.

p. 855-59, on the discovery of De Long’s body and his two companions: [need to check who wrote this following account of de Long’s death and finding of his journals.]

p. 855: “I supposed that the party had got tired of carrying their books and papers, and had made a deposit of them at this place, and erected these poles over the papers and books as a landmark, that they might return and secure them in case they arrived at a place of safety.”

p. 856, at the fireplace where they died: “ They apparently had attempted to carry their books and papers up on this high point, because they carried the chart case up there, and I suppose the fatigue of going up on the high land prevented their returning to get the rest of their books and papers. No doubt they saw that if they died on the river bed, where the water runs, the spring freshets would carry them off to sea.

“I gathered up all the small articles lying around in the vicinity of the dead. I found the ice journal about three or four feet in the rear of De Long; that is, it looked as though he had been lying down, and with his left hand tossed the book over his shoulder to the rear, or to the eastward of him. I referred to the last pages of the journal, and saw where the next man had died after Ericksen. The first man that died after Ericksen was Alexey, the Indian hunter. The journal stated that he had died in the flat-boat; that was about five hundred yards from where we then were. Referring to the journal, I found that the whole of the people were now in the lee of the bank, in a distance of about five hundred yards. …

p. 589: “… just before night set in we found the head of one man and the feet of another underneath the snow-bank. The natives being frightened jumped out of the hole quickly. I told them to dig a little longer, that the books might be there; and after digging for a spell they threw out a box of books, and exposed the shoulders of a third person. It was about twenty versts (about thirteen miles) across the bay to Mat Vai, where our camp was. We stuck a stick of timber in the hole where we were digging, gathered up some traps we found, and returned to Mat Vai."