« AnteriorContinuar »
On the evening of the 13th May, Dr. Rae again started with a chosen party of four men, to trace the west shore of Melville peninsula. Each of the men carried about 70 lbs. weight.
Being unable to obtain a drop of water of nature's thawing, and fuel being rather a scarce article, they were obliged to take small kettles of snow under the blankets with them, to thaw by the heat of the body.
Having reached to about 69° 42' N. lat., and 850 8' long., and their provisions being nearly exhausted, they were obliged, much to their disappointment, to turn back, when only within a few miles of the Hecla and Fury Strait. Early on the morning of the 30th of May, the party arrived at their snow hut on Cape Thomas Simpson. The men they had left there were well, but very thin, as they had neither caught nor shot any thing eatable, except two marmots, and they were preparing to cook a piece of parchment skin for
“ Our journey," says Dr. Rae, “ hitherto had been the most fatiguing I had ever experienced; the severe exercise, with a limited allowance of food, had reduced the whole party very much. However, we marched merrily on, tightening our belts —mine came in six inches ---- the men vowing that when they got on full allowance, they would make up for lost time.”
On the morning of the 9th of June, they arrived at their encampment in Repulse Bay, after being absent twenty-seven days. The whole party then set actively to work procuring food, collecting fuel, and preparing the boats for sea; and the ice in the bay having broken up on the 11th of August, on the 12th they left their winter quarters, and after encountering head winds and stormy weather, reached Churchill River on the 31st of August.
A gratuity of 4:001. was awarded to Mr. Rae, by the Hudson's Bay Company, for the important services he had thus rendered to the cause of science.
CAPTAIN SIR JOHN FRANKLIN'S LAST EXPEDITION,
1845-51. That Sir John Franklin, now nearly six years absent, is alive, we dare not affirm; but that his ships should be so utterly annihilated that no trace of them can be discovered, or if they have been so entirely lost, that not a single life should have been saved to relate the disaster, and that no traces of the crew or vessels should have been met with by the Esquimaux, or the exploring parties who have visited and investi gated those coasts, and bays, and inlets to so considerable an extent, is a most extraordinary circumstance. It is the general belief of those officers who have served in the former arctic expeditions, that whatever accident may have befallen the Erebus and Terror, they cannot wholly have disappeared from those seas, and that some traces of their fate, if not some living remnant of their crews, must eventually reward the search of the diligent investigator. It is possible that they may be found in quarters the least expected. There is still reason, then, for hope, and for the great and honorable exertions which that divine spark in the soul has prompted and still keeps alive.
“ There is something," says the Athenæum, “intensely interesting in the picture of those dreary seas amid whose strange and unspeakable solitudes our lost countrymen are, or have been, somewhere imprisoned for so many years, swarming with the human life that is risked to set them free. No haunt was ever so exciting-so full of a wild grandeur and a profound pathos - as that which had just aroused the arctic echoes; that wherein their brothers and companions have been beating for the track by which they may rescue the lost mariners from the icy grasp of the Ge. nius of the North. Fancy these men in their adaman tine prison, wherever it may be, - chained up by the polar spirit whom they had dared, - lingering through years of cold and darkness on the stinted ration that scarcely feeds the blood, and the feeble hope that
scarcely sustains the heart, ---- and then imagine the rush of emotions to greet the first cry from that wild hunting ground which should reach their ears! Through many summers has that cry been listened for, no doubt. Something like an expectation of the rescue which it should announce has revived with each returning season of comparative light, to die of its own bafiled intensity as the long dark months once more settled down upon their dreary prison-house. — There is scarcely a doubt that the track being now struck, these longpining hearts may be traced to their lair. But what to the anxious questioning which has year by year gone forth in search of their fate, will be the answer now revealed? The trail is found, - but what of the weary feet that made it? We are not willing needlessly to alarm the public sympathies, which have been so generously stirred on behalf of the missing men, - but we are bound to warn our readers against too sanguine an entertainment of the hope which the first tidings of the recent discovery is calculated to suggest. It is scarcely possible that the provisions which are sufficient for three years, and adaptable for four, can by any economy which implies less than starvation have been spread over five, - and scarcely probable that they can have been made to do so by the help of any accidents which the place of confinement supplied. We cannot hear of this sudden discovery of traces of the vanished crews as living men, without a wish which comes like a pang that it had been two years ago -- or even last makes the heart sore to think how close relief may have been to their hiding-place in former years — when it turned away. There is scarcely reason to doubt that had the present circumstances of the search occurred two years ago — last year perhaps - the wanderers would have been restored. Another year makes a frightful difference in the odds : -- and we do not think the public will ever feel satisfied with what has been done in this matter if the oracle so long questioned, and silent so long, shall speak at last -- and the answer shall be, “It is too late."
In the prosecution of the noble enterprise on which all eyes are now turned, it is not merely scientific research and geographical discovery that are at present occupying the attention of the commanders of vessels sent out; the lives of human beings are at stake, and above alí, the lives of men who have nobly periled every thing in the cause of national - nay, of universal progress and knowledge; -- of men who have evinced on this and other expeditions the most dauntless bravery that
any men can evince. Who can think of the probable fate of these gallant adventurers without a shudder?
Alas! how truthfully has Montgomery depicted the fatal imprisonment of vessels in these regions :
There lies a vessel in that realm of frost,
Morn shall return, and noon, and eve, and night
Shall from the Zenith, through incumbent gloom,
Naked and pale, before the Judge of all. All who read these pages will, I am sure, feel the deepest sympathy and admiration of the zeal, perseverance, and conjugal affection displayed in the noble and untiring efforts of Lady Franklin to relieve or to discover the fate of her distinguished husband and the gallant party under his command, despite the difficulties, disappointments, and heart-sickening “hope deferred” with which these efforts have been attended. All men must feel a lively interest in the fate of these bold men, and be most desirous to contribute toward their restoration to their country and their homes. The name of the present Lady Franklin is as “familiar as a household word” in every bosom in England ; she is alike the object of our admiration, our sympathy, our hopes, and our prayers. Nay, her name and that of her husband is breathed in prayer in many lands-and, oh! how earnest, how zealous, how courageous, have been her efforts to find and relieve her husband, for, like Desdemona,
“She loved him for the dangers he had passed,
And he loved her that she did pity them.” How has she traversed from port to port, bidding “God speed their mission ” to each public and private ship going forth on the noble errand of mercy — how freely and promptly has she contributed to their comforts. How has she watched each arrival from the north, scanned each stray paragraph of news, hurried to the Admiralty on each rumor, and kept up with unremitting labor a voluminous correspondence with all the quarters of the globe, fondly wishing that she had the wings of the dove, that she might flee away, and be with him from whom Heaven has seen fit to separate her so long.
An American poet well depicts her sentiments in the following lines :