Sir John Franklin.


p. 75: And now we come to one of the most tragic histories ever told. One might call it pathetic, but that, as Thackeray says of the circumstances of George the Third's madness, it is too terrible for tears. Nevertheless, no one could read Franklin's diary and not be touched. It was, it must be remembered, written from night to night, after the day had been spent in one of the most frightful of all torments, starvation, and when death seemed to draw visibly nearer hour by hour. It is as if he had written it with his heart's blood, which to the last drop he was determined should be shed for those at home in England. There is no unmanly wailing in it. It is the most matter-of-fact record of appalling suffering. Perhaps the most tragic feature of it is that at one point the dates cease. Whether he had lost count of time or not, it is impossible to say. The diary does not cease, though the dates do. Perhaps the record of those days was added afterwards, because, however willing the spirit was, he found it frequently impossible to pen his notes upon the spot.