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PREFACE.

In no quarter of the globe does the seaman or the traveller meet with more dangers and difficulties in his path of enterprise or discovery than in the Arctic Regions, or those lands and seas which are comprised within a circle, drawn on the chart at a distance of 23° from the North Pole.

Within these icy limits is contained the eagerlysought problem of centuries,—the North-West Passage ;-that question which Sir Martin Frobisher, even in his day, considered as “the only great thing left undone in the world,” and which has ever since baffled all attempts at solution, though pursued with unceasing zeal.

To these barren solitudes the attention, not

only of England, but of the whole world, has been anxiously directed for the past two years, owing to the uncertainty which hangs over the fate of Sir John Franklin and his gallant crews; and the following pages, while they aim at rendering more popular a subject which yields to none, of a geographical nature, in absorbing interest, have been compiled, principally with a view to keep public attention alive to the imperative duty which England owes to the brave men she has sent on a perilous service to use every practical endeavour within her power for their relief. How many,

whose names never meet the world's ear, whose tears are unseen by the world's

eye, watch for the result?

LONDON, March 25, 1850.

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