Abbildungen der Seite

tainly appear strange, if such had been the case, that neither Sir John Richardson, nor the boat parties under Captains Pullen and Hooper, should have heard anything about it. Still it is to be hoped that Dr. Rae's attention will be called to the fact, to which it is evident Captain Inglefield attaches more interest than Captain M'Clure.

On the 6th of September, being to the northward of Cape Parry, the next most remarkable cape of Arctic America, east of Cape Bathurst, they discovered some high land, upon which they landed the ensuing day, naming it Baring Island. On the 9th they discovered more land, which they named Prince Albert's Land, and which is said to be the westerly prolongation of Wollaston and Victoria Lands. The northern part of Baring Island also corresponds to Banks' Land of the Arctic explorers from the East. This multiplication of names appears, therefore, very unnecessary: Prince Albert's Land being part of Wollaston Land, and Baring Island part of Banks' Land. Baring Island is separated from Prince Albert Land by a strait which was called Prince of Wales' Strait, and which Captain M Clure satisfied himself, by travelling parties, communicated with Barrow's Strait, thus establishing the existence of a north-west passage (when free from ice) in that direction.

Prince Albert's Land was found to be inhabited, in its southern portions, by a primitive people, described as being of quiet, simple, and inoffensive habits. They had never seen white men before, and were at first naturally much alarmed. There were also musk oxen, five of which formed a welcome addition to the stock of the Investigator.

The ice did not break up till the 14th of July, 1851, when the ship was allowed to drift with the pack towards Parry's or Barrow's Straits till August 14th, when, having attained lat. 73 deg. 14 min. 19 sec., long. 115 deg. 30 min. 30 sec., or a distance of only fifteen miles from the previously discovered entrance to Parry's or Barrow's Straits (the said entrance being in lat. 73 deg. 30 min. north, long. 114 deg. 14 min. west, and according to the map attached to the Parliamentary Blue-book printed in 1852, forty-five miles distant from the nearest coast of Melville Island, which is therefore the width of Parry's Strait at that point), their further progress was unfortunately arrested by a north-east wind setting in, which set large masses of ice to the southward, and carried them back with them. Had the Investigator been supplied with a screw-propeller, it is possible she might have confronted this difficulty, and have effected the north-west passage, and been in England in 1851.

Thus driven back, however, Captain M'Clure bore up to the southward of Baring Island, and ran up with clear water as far as to lat. 74 deg. 27 min. N., long. 122 deg. 32 min. 15 sec. W., within a mile of the coast the whole distance, when his progress was impeded by ice resting upon the shore, and the ship was at the same time in great danger of being crushed or driven on shore by the ice coming in with a heavy pressure from the Polar Sea. The Investigator was detained by these difficulties from the 20th of August to the 19th of September, or a month within a day, when observing clear water along shore to the eastward, she was cast off from a large grounded floe to which she had been secured, and worked in that direction, with occasional obstructions from ice and mud banks, and several narrow escapes from the stupendous Polar ice, till the 24th of September, when, being in lat. 74 dey: 6 min. N., and long. 117 deg. 54 min. W., or fifty-five miles from the nearest shores of Melville Island, and at or near the entrance to Parry's Strait, they observed the said strait to be full of ice, large masses of which were setting down towards them. So finding a well-sheltered spot upon the south side of a shoal upon which they had grounded the night before, and which was protected from the heavy ice by the projection of the reef, they ran in and anchored in four fathoms. That very same night they were frozen in, and the Investigator has remained ever since in the same spot, which has very appropriately been designated by its gallant commander the BAY OF MERCY.

Baring Island, or Banks' Land, was luckily found to abound in reindeer and hares, which remained the entire winter, and the officers and crew were enabled to add upwards of 4000lbs. to their stock of provisions during their first year's detention. Captain M'Clure states that in these latitudes a ship stands no chance of getting to the westward by entering the Polar Sea, the wind being contrary and the pack impenetrable ; but this does not apply to higher latitudes, supposing Sir John Franklin's expedition to have gone to the westward by Queen's Channel. Prince of Wales' Strait he conceives to be more practicable, but that apparently only to ships going westward or south-westward.

A party, consisting of Captain M'Clure, Mr. Court, second master, and six others, went over the ice in April, 1852, to Winter Harbour, Melville Island, were they deposited a record of their proceedings up to that time. This despatch was discovered by a party from the Resolute, Captain Kellett, which wintered the same year at Dealy Island, Melville Island ; and as far as we can make out, the gallant Lieutenant Pim, the same who proposed the Siberian expedition of succour, was despatched at once to communicate with their long lost, frozen in countrymen.

The account of Lieutenant Pim's arrival at the Bay of Mercy, as given by Captain Kellett in a private letter, is one of the most affecting incidents that has yet sprung out of the Arctic expeditions. There is only one other possible event of a similar kind that would exceed it in that respect.

M-Clure and his first-lieutenant were walking on the ice. Seeing a person coming very fast towards them, they supposed that it was one of their party being chased by a bear. They accordingly walked towards him, but had not got above a hundred yards when they could see by his proportions that he was not one of them. Pim was at this time throwing up his hands and hallooing out, his face being described as appearing as black as his hat-we must suppose from running and excitement.

At length Pim reached the two lonely strollers quite beside himself, and yet under the circumstances he exhibited an amusing specimen of naval etiquette, still more amusing if we consider the position of the parties, two of them ice-imprisoned for two long winters, the third coming over the desolate ice from no one knew where. “Who are you, and where do you come from?” inquired Captain M-Clure. “Lieutenant Pim, Herald, Captain Kellett," was the answer stammered out by the happy sailor. “This was," says Captain Kellett, “ more inexplicable to M-Clure, as I was the last person he shook hands with in Behring's Straits.” He at length found that this solitary stranger was a true Englishman- an angel of light." The arrival of a stranger had also

by this time been made out by the ship's crew, and the news had spread like lightning. There being only one hatchway open, the men got fairly jammed in their attempts to get up one before the other. Strength and health suddenly returned to the sick, who are described as jumping out of their hammocks-every one forgot his previous despondency; " in fact, all was changed on board the Investigator !"

It does not appear why Lieutenant Pim should have been “a solitary stranger.” It is not likely that, however adventurously disposed, Captain Kellett would have let him start on foot a journey of some hundred miles over the ice alone. We must suppose that he ran on in advance of his sledge party.

This opportune and welcome visit was soon returned by Captain M-Clure, and Captain Kellett describes the arrival of his gallant friend with delightful enthusiasm :

“ This is really a red-letter day in our voyage, and shall be kept as a holiday by our heirs and successors for ever. At nine o'clock of this day (April 19th, 1853) our look-out man made the signal for a party coming in from the westward ; all went out to meet them and assist them in. A second party was then seen. Dr. Domville was the first party I met. I cannot describe my feelings when he told me that Captain M'Clure was among the next party. I was not long in reaching him, and giving him many hearty shakes—no purer were ever given by two men in this world. M'Clure looks well, but is very hungry.”

No wonder ! He had at the time Lieutenant Pim arrived at the Bay of Mercy thirty men and three officers, fully prepared to leave for the depôt at Point Spencer. “ What a disappointment,” says Captain Kellett, “ it would have been to go there and find the miserable Mary yacht with four or five casks of provisions, instead of a fine depôt !”

Another party of seven men were to have gone by the river Mackenzie, with a request to the Admiralty to send out a ship to meet them at Point Leopold in 1854. Captain Kellett adds, he had ordered the thirty men over to the Resolute. The captain had also sent his surgeon to report upon the health of the crew. He had further desired that, should there not be among them twenty men who would volunteer to remain another winter, Captain M'Clure was to desert his vessel. Lieutenant Cresswell, of the Investigator, has returned to England with Captain Inglefield, of the Phenix, who brought home the news we now transcribe.

According to a letter written on board the Investigator, and dated April 10th, 1853, Captain M'Clure states it to be his intention, should the ice break up in the Bay of Mercy sufficiently early to permit of his getting through Parry's Strait this season, to push forward at once; but if the ice does not permit this, he still hopes that it will break up sufficiently to enable him to take the ship to Port Leopold in Barrow's Strait, and complete a twelvemonth's provisions, and he will then risk wintering in the pack, or getting through in preference to remaining at that port.

If, however, the Investigator should not be able to get out of the Bay of Mercy, it was his intention to leave towards the end of April, 1854, and make for Port Leopold, where there is a good boat, a house, and supplies; and with this he would try to make the whalers in Pond's or Baffin's Bays. But it is evident that the Admiralty will not allow our gallant countrymen to be driven to such extremities. If the Investigator cannot get out the present season, parties can supply the crew with provisions from Sir Edward Belcher's squadron, and by leaving one or more vessels in Barrow's Strait to ensure the safe return of the crew, they could remain on board the Investigator till another chance presented itself for the liberation of the ship in the summer of 1854; and such chance failing, the officers and men could then desert the vessel, and reach a ship in Barrow's Strait in time to get to England the same season. It may also be a matter of consideration with the Admiralty, whether it may not be worth while to re-man and re-provision the Investigator, to find her way back the same way she came.

Hope is said to live upon less than will sustain anything else; but there are very few grounds for expecting that the Investigator will be saved by getting through Parry's Strait. When discovered by the distinguished navigator whose name, as the westerly prolongation of Barrow's Strait, it justly bears, it was blocked up by a fixed body of ice, and, excepting in sledge parties, not one of the numerous expeditions of succour has since been able to get even so far westward as Captain Parry did. Captain M-Clure has now arrived and knocked at the same icy gate, but from an opposite direction-from the eastward.

When the Investigator got so far as it has, it must, as in Sir Edward Parry's instance, have been under the auspices of an unusual open season, as is shown by its being frozen in ever since; yet, on this occasion, Parry's Strait, when approached by Prince of Wales' Strait, and by the west shores of Baring Island, was apparently as permanently frozen up as on all former occasions. What, therefore, but the most unreasonable hopes can we entertain that that strait will be opened in 1853 or 1854, which has never, that we are aware of, being seen open since first discovered in 1819 ?

If the results of recent Arctic exploration-however anxious we may be for the fate of those engaged in them have been of a brilliant description as far as geographical discovery is concerned in the southwest and west, they have not been less so in a northerly direction.

Sir Edward Belcher quitted Beechey Island on the 14th of August, and steamed direct up Wellington Channel, determined to have nothing to do with any land which could have been seen and named by Penny's people. He thus pushed on direct for Cape Becher, which he reached about midnight of the 16th, and leaving a caché at that point he at once proceeded to the extreme land called Cape Sir John Franklin by Captain Penny, but which he designated as Mount Percy, calling the territory “Northumberland of North Britain," and the islet covered sea" beneath him, “Northumberland Sound.” And here, in lat. 76 deg. 52 min. north, long. 97 deg. west, the Assistance passed the winter of 1852-53. The warrant for this change of names was found in the fact that this land was quite differently disposed, and in a totally different latitude and longitude to what has been described by the bold pioneer, but not very scientific explorer, Penny. From this point Sir Edward Belcher could see Cape Lady Franklin, Captain Penny's extreme point westward; but as he had reached the extreme land north of Cape Becher, he transposed the name of Sir John Franklin from where it stands on the chart in the Blue-book to the foot of Mount Percy, giving to an island next to him

the name of Point Sophia, from the same map Sir Edward Beleher considered himself as wintering in the Polar Sea, which he adds is probably composed of a great archipelago of islets and sand-banks—a rather hasty deduction.

The ship being frozen in, boat and sledge parties were at once set to work. One started under Sir Edward Belcher, another under Commander Richards, and a third under Lieutenant Osborne. On the 25th of August Sir Edward Belcher describes himself as landing on a low point, where the coast suddenly turned to the eastward, and discovering the remains of several well-built Esquimaux houses, not simply circles of small stones, but two lines of well-laid wall in excavated ground, filled in between by about two feet of fine gravel, well paved, and withal presenting the appearance of great care "more, indeed,” adds Sir Edward, “than I am willing to attribute to the rude inhabitants, or migrating Esquimaux." What is meant to be conveyed by this? If the imprese sion was that these were traces similar to what were found at Beechey Island, why not say so; but if so, some fragments of European art would also have been inevitably found. Coal was discovered in this neighbourhood, and bones of deer, walrus, seals, &c., were strewed around.

On the evening of the 27th of August, Sir Edward Belcher took possession of a large island, which he named Exmouth Island, and its summit Milne Peak, in lat. 77 deg. 15 min. north, that is to say northward of anything discovered by Captain Penny. From hence he navigated with great danger to land still further north, in lat. 77 deg. 33 min., long. about 97 deg., and which he named North Cornwall. This was the extreme point reached upon this occasion; and the party returned to the ship on the 8th of September, having been absent sixteen days.

In a subsequent despatch, dated Beechey Island, July 26th, 1853, Sir Edward Belcher, who had before given it as his opinion that the socalled Smith and Jones's Sounds were connected with the sea he was then exploring, describes himself as having discovered the outlet of the latter in about lat. 76 deg. 30 min., and 90 deg. west long., the Polar Sea open, and extending as far as the eye could reach. This was on the 26th of May. A despatch of Sir Edward Belcher's, written in the month of April, has not appeared, and thus renders it difficult to follow the gallant officer's proceedings between the winter of 1852 and the spring of 1853 ; but it appears from this last despatch that he named other portions of the region around him Prince Alfred Bay and Princess Royal Island, and that he discovered a whole group of islands in the very high latitude of 78 deg. 10 min.! which he called Victoria Archipelago. The easternmost of these islands, which is said to form the channel to Jones's Strait, he called North Kent, in honour of his Royal Highness the late Duke. The Victoria Archipelago is therefore the most northerly land known, as Vietoria Land is the most southerly; and the limits of Queen Victoria's dominions has now been made to extend very nearly indeed from pole to pole!

Sir Edward Belcher returned to his ship from this remarkable expedition on the 22nd of June, after an absence of fifty-two days. Commander Richards had, in the same interval, crossed from the Polar Sea to Mel.

« ZurückWeiter »