In the Arctic Seas Part 25


On the 27th I sent three of the men back to the ship, and with Thompson and the dogs went on to Pemmican Rock, where, to our great joy, we happily met Young and his party, who had but just returned there, after a long and successful journey the particulars of which I will give hereafter.

Young was greatly reduced in flesh and strength, so much weakened indeed that for the last few days he had travelled on the dog sledge; Harvey--also far from well--could just manage to keep pace with the sledge; his malady was scurvy. Their journeys had been very depressing; most dismal weather, low, dreary limestone shores devoid of game, and no traces of the lost expedition. The news of our success in the southern journeys greatly cheered them. On the following day we were all once more on board, and indulging in such rapid consumption of eatables as only those can do who have been much reduced by long-continued fatigue and exposure to cold. Venison, ducks, beer and lemon-juice, daily; preserved apples and cranberries three times a week; and pickled whale-skin--a famous antiscorbutic--_ad libitum_ for all who liked it.

The weather, which for the last week had been wet, windy, and miserable, now set in fair. The carpenter's hammer, and the men's voices at their work, were new and animating sounds.


[25] It is a remarkable circumstance that when, in 1830, Sir James Ross discovered Point Victory, he named two points of land, then in sight, Cape Franklin and Cape Jane Franklin respectively. Eighteen years afterwards Franklin's ships perished within sight of those headlands.

[26] This cairn, as well as the one built on Point Victory in 1830, was removed by the natives; fortunately they had not visited Point Victory whilst the Franklin cairn and record remained there, otherwise neither cairn nor record would have remained for us to discover.

[27] This channel is now named after the illustrious navigator, Admiral Sir John Franklin.

[28] This will be understood when it is recollected that W. of Simpson's Straits or Victoria Land, a navigable passage to Behring Strait is known to exist along the coast of North America. Franklin himself, with his companion Richardson, surveyed by far the greater portion of that distance. Franklin's and Parry's discoveries overlap each other in longitude, and for the last thirty years or more the discovery of the North-West Passage has been reduced to the discovery of a link uniting the two.


Signs of release--Dearth of animal life--Owl is good beef--Beat out of winter quarters--Our game-list--Reach Fury Beach--Escape from Regent's Inlet--In Baffin's Bay--Captain Allen Young's journey--Disco; sad disappointment--Part from our Esquimaux friends--Adieu to Greenland--Arrive home.


To-day (_2nd July_) I took a long and delightful walk, but shot only two ducks; Petersen went in another direction, and got nothing; Christian, after toiling all day in his kayak, returned with only two divers and a duck. Lately he has obtained for us several king and long-tailed ducks (no eider ducks have been seen), two red-throated divers, and two brent geese, and caught an ermine in its summer coat. Yesterday one of the men brought on board a trout weighing 2 lbs.; he saw a glaucous gull and a fox disputing for it; the former seems to have killed and brought it to land.

The water now washes the south side of the Fox Islands, and extends to the south point of Long Island. The month of June has been somewhat warmer than usual, its mean temperature being +35-1/2.

_9th._--The ship has been thoroughly cleaned and restowed, remaining provisions examined, tanks filled with fresh water, 12 tons of stone ballast taken in, and everything brought on board that was landed last autumn. Hobson is the only one upon the sick list; but he is able to walk about and does duty. Very few birds, and only one small seal, have been obtained during the week; an occasional great northern diver is seen, and a rare land bird has been shot. We cannot discover the nests of either ducks or geese, and the breeding cliffs of the gulls being inaccessible, we have not got any eggs. I am a close prisoner at the corner of my table, poring over my observation and angle book, and have at length laid down upon paper the west coast of King William's Land to my satisfaction. Tidal observations are commenced; and the aneroid and mercurial barometers are again being compared in order to verify the former.


_16th. Saturday night._--We are now almost ready for sea. There is a much larger space of water in Bellot Strait, reaching within 300 or 400 yards of us. Long cracks or lanes of water have been seen in Prince Regent's Inlet. The decay of the ice continues, though not with equal rapidity, yet with very satisfactory despatch. Westerly winds and clear weather prevail. Christian has seen two reindeer this week, and has shot a very few birds, and seven seals. As these creatures lie basking upon the ice, he crawls up to them behind a small calico screen, fitted upon a miniature sledge about a foot long, on which there is a rest for the muzzle of his rifle, and a slit in the calico through which he fires it.

The seals afford an average weight of thirty pounds of excellent fresh meat, which we relish greatly, and consider much better suited to our present condition than such poor venison as reindeer would furnish at this season. A single hare has been shot; the white fur has nearly all disappeared, and left exposed the summer coat of dull lead color.

Several small birds not common to the northward are found here. Insects abound; the Doctor is perpetually in chase, unless busily occupied in grubbing up plants. Young is surveying the harbor. Hobson fully occupied in preparing the ship for sea. I have been giving some attention to the engines and boiler, and hope, with the help of the two stokers, to be able to make use of our steam power.

The men have received my hearty thanks for their great exertions during the travelling period. I told them I considered every part of our search to have been fully and efficiently performed. Our labors have determined the exact position of the extreme northern promontory of the continent of America; I have affixed to it the name of Murchison, after the distinguished President of the Royal Geographical Society--the strenuous advocate for this "further search"--and the able champion of Lady Franklin when she needed all the support which private friendship and public spirit could bestow.

[Illustration: Walruses--A Family Party.]


_23rd._--The ice in Prince Regent's Inlet is broken up into pack, but the prevalence of easterly winds keeps it in close upon the shore. The ice about us is very much decayed, holes through it in many places. No reindeer seen this week, and only two seals procured; one of them shot by Christian, the other was killed by a bear, which ran off before Samuel could come within shot of him. A fox, a gull, a couple of ducks, and one or two lemmings; complete our game list for the week, yet our two Esquimaux are indefatigable in the pursuit. We eat all the birds and seals we can shoot, as well as mustard and cress as fast as we can grow it, but the quantity is very small. We sometimes refresh ourselves with a salad of sorrel-leaves, or roots of the little plant with lilac flower of snapdragon shape, named _Pedicularis hirsuta_.

The seine has been hauled in the narrow lake at the head of the harbor, but, as it was not well managed, only a dozen small trout were taken, though several were seen. We have tried for rock cod, but without success. The relics of the lost expedition have been aired, exhibited to the crew, labelled, and packed away. The Doctor has been dredging lately. A record detailing our proceedings has been placed in a cairn upon the west point of Depot Bay.

{AUG., 1859.}

_1st August._--A long continuance of unusually calm, bright, and warm weather has been favorable to our painting and cleaning the ship, scraping masts, and so forth. The result is that she looks unusually smart and gay, and our impatience to exhibit her, and _ourselves_ at home is much increased. With the exception of a few gulls, and a duck, our hunters have shot nothing lately, although constantly out, either darting about in their kayaks or ranging over the hills; in fact there is nothing which they _can_ shoot; the ducks are tolerably numerous, but extremely wild; the valleys are respectably clothed with vegetation, yet only one animal--a hare--has been seen. I was so fortunate as to shoot a snowy owl, the flesh of which was white and tender, but, to my palate, tasteless, although Petersen considers that "owl is the best beef in the country."


On Thursday night we found the harbor-ice to be quietly drifting out, of course taking us with it. The night was calm, the current in Bellot Strait very strong; we were almost helpless under the circumstances, and therefore felt the danger of our position. To warp the ship along the ice-edge, out of the way of the shore and rocks as it turned round and drifted along the cliffs to the westward, gave us some hours'

occupation. At length it stuck fast between Fox Island and the main.

At turn of tide on Friday morning it began to drift eastward, and by this time being much broken up, and a breeze coming to our aid, we managed to extricate ourselves and reach a secure anchorage in Point Kennedy.

On Saturday night some ice that was left came drifting out of the inner harbor, and obliged us to slip our cable; but after a few hours we regained our berth in safety, and have since been undisturbed. There is no immediate prospect of escape, but we expect a prodigious smashing up of the ice whenever a strong wind springs up to set it in motion. To-day the steam was got up, and with the help of our two stokers I worked the engines for a short time. It is very cheering to know that we still have steam power at our command, although, by the deaths of poor Mr. Brand and Robert Scott, we were deprived of our engineer and engine-driver.

The mean temperature for July has been 4014, which is above the average for this region; the July temperatures have usually varied from 36 to 42.

All are now in good health, but Hobson still a little lame. The issue of lemon-juice has been reduced to the ordinary allowance of half an ounce daily (as we have but little that is really good), lest another winter should become inevitable, which, I can devoutly say, may God forbid!


_Monday night, 8th._--Very anxiously awaiting an opportunity to escape.

We have constantly watched the ice from the neighboring hills, including the lofty summit of Mount Walker--named after the Doctor, who was the first to ascend it (1123 feet)--from which Fury Point can be distinguished, but nothing very cheering has been seen. We had a N.E.

gale, accompanied by rain and a considerable fall of the barometer, a few days ago; and as it blew freshly from the westward this morning, I went to a hill-top and saw that much ice had been broken up in Brentford Bay, and that there were streaks of water along the land between Possession Point and Hazard Inlet; this water, however, was not accessible to us.

The ice about Pemmican Rock was much in the same position as we found it last year, but Bellot Strait was perfectly clear. All the ice in this harbor, in Depot Bay, and Hazard Inlet, is gone, by far the greater part having decayed, not drifted away.

Later in the day and from loftier hill-tops, a good deal of water was seen off Cape Garry, and a water-sky beyond. It now blows very strongly from the S.W., the most desirable quarter; and as the anxious desire to escape has become oppressive, it is not to be wondered at that now our hopes have become extravagant. We may even make a start to-morrow! On the other hand, a careful examination of our provision store shows that, should we be obliged to spend another winter here, we must curtail our allowance of meat--fresh and salt--to three-quarters of a pound, and have to use but very indifferent lemon-juice. The spirits, I rejoice to say, will very shortly be entirely expended.


On the morning of the 3rd instant, when the rain ceased and N.E. gale sprang up, two claps of thunder were distinctly heard; this occurs but very rarely in these latitudes. There is ample occupation for the men but not much for the officers; as for myself, I write a great deal, and work occasionally at our chart of discoveries; the only refreshment I indulge in is an occasional dive into packets of old letters. All yesterday the harbor was full of ice set in by southerly and westerly winds, and so closely packed that one might have walked over it to the shore; to-day it has nearly all drifted out again. The subjoined list will show what game we have been able to obtain by constant and arduous labor from the resources of these regions during nearly two years'



+--------------------------------------+ 8 Months in the Pack, 1857-8. +--------+--------+-----------+--------+ Bears. Seals. Dovekies. Foxes. 2 73 38 1 +--------+--------+-----------+--------+

+----------------------------------------------------------------+ 11 Months in Port Kennedy, 1858-9. +--------+-------+--------+--------+------------+-------+--------+ Bears. Deer. Hares. Foxes. Ptarmigan. Wild Seals. Fowl. 2 8 9 19 82 98 18 +--------+-------+--------+--------+------------+-------+--------+

At Port Kennedy several ermines and lemmings were also caught.

The ptarmigan all disappeared after 1st April.

Only 2 dovekies were seen, 1 in winter, and 1 in summer plumage.

A few seals were seen as early as the month of February.

Ducks, geese, and gulls were the usual kind of wild fowl killed.

Chapter end

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