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the arctic adventurers, Hudson and Baffin, - although all eminent for their discoveries and the important services they rendered to the cause of nautical science, - sink into insignificance! If we glance at the results of Cook's voyages we find that to him we are indebted for the innumerable discoveries of islands and colonies planted in the Pacific; that he determined the conformation, and surveyed the numerous bays and inlets, of New Holland; established the geographical position of the north western shores of America; ascertained the trending of the ice and frozen shores to the north of Bebring's Straits ; approached nearer the South Pole, and made more discoveries in the Australian regions, than all the navigators who had preceded him. On the very shores of their vast empire, at the extremity of Kamtschatka, his active genius first taught the Russians to examine the devious trendings of the lands which border the Frozen Ocean, in the neighborhood of the Arctic circle. He explored both the eastern and western coasts above Behring's Straits to so high a latitude as to decide, beyond doubt, the question as to the existence of a passage round the two continents. He showed the Russians how to navigate the dangerous seas between the old and the new world; for, as Coxe has remarked, “ before his time, every thing was uncertain and confused, and though they had undoubtedly reached the continent of America, yet they had not ascertained the line of coast, nor the separation or vicinity of the two continents of Asia and America." Coxe, certainly, does no more than justice to bis illustrious countryman when he adds, " the solution of this important problem was reserved for our great navigator, and every Englishman must exult that the discoveries of Cook were extended further in a single expedition, and at the distance of half the globe, than the Russians accomplished in a long series of years, and in a region contiguous to their own empire."
Look at Weddell, again, á private trader in seal. skins, who, in a frail bark of 160 tons, made important
discoveries in the Antarctic circle, and a voyage of greater length and peril, through a thousand iniles of ice, than had previously been performed by any navi. gator, paving the way for the more expensively fitted expedition under Sir James Ross. Was Weddell remunerated on a scale commensurate with his important services ?
Half a century ago the celebrated Bruce of Kinnaird, by a series of soundings and observations taken in the Red Sea, now the great highway of overland eastern traffic, rendered its navigation more secure and punctnal. How was he rewarded by the then existing ministry?
Take a more recent instance in the indefatigable energy of Lieutenant Waghorn, R. N., the enterprising pioneer of the overland route to India. What does not The commerce, the character, the reputation, of his country owe to his indefatigable exertions, in bringing the metropolis into closer connection with her vast
and important Indian empire? And what was the reward he received for the sacrifices he made of time, money, health and life? A paltry annuity to himself of 1001., and a pension to his widow of 251. per annum!
Is it creditable to her as the first naval power of the world that she should thus dole out miserable pittances, or entirely overlook the successful patriotic exertions and scientific enterprises and discoveries of private adventurers, or public commanders?
The attractions of a summer voyage along the bays and seas where the sun shines for four months at a time, exploring the bare rocks and everlasting ice, with no companion but the white bear or the Arctic fox, may be all very romantic at a distance; but the mere thought of a winter residence there, frozen fast in some solid ocean, with snow a dozen feet deep, the thermometer ranging from 40° to 50° below zero, and not a glimpse of the blessed sun from November to February, is enough to give a chill to all adventurous notions. But the officers and men engaged in the searching expeditions after Sir John Franklin have calmly weighed all
these difficulties, and boldly gone forth to encounter the perils and dangers of these icy seas for the sake of their noble fellow-sailor, whose fate has been so long a painful mystery to the world.
It has been truly observed, that “this is a service for which all officers, however brave and intelligent they may be, are not equally qualified; it requires a peculiar tact, an inquisitive and persevering pursuit after details of fact, not always interesting, a contempt of danger, and an enthusiasm not to be damped by ordinary difficulties."
The records which I shall have to give in these pages of voyages and travels, unparalleled in their perils, their duration, and the protracted sufferings which many of them entailed on the adventurers, will bring out in bold relief the prominent characters who have figured in Arctic Discovery, and whose names will descend to posterity, emblazoned on the scroll of faine, for their bravery, their patient endurance, their skill, and, above all, their firm trust and reliance Almighty Being who, although He may have tried them sorely, has never utterly forsaken them.
Capt. John Ross's VOYAGE, 1818.
In 1818, His Royal Highness the Prince Regent having signified his pleasure that an attempt should be made to find a passage by sea between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty were pleased to fit out four vessels to proceed toward the North Pole, under the command of Captain John Ross. No former expedition had been fitted out on so extensive a scale, or so completely equipped in every respect as this one.
The circumstance which mainly led to the sending out of these vessels, was the open character of the bays and seas in those regions, it having been observed for the previous three years that very unusual quantities of the polar ice had floated down into the Atlantic. In the
year 1817, Sir John Barrow relates that the eastern Coast of Greenland, which had been shut up with ice for four centuries, was found to be accessible from the 70th to the 80th degree of latitude, and the intermediate sea between it and Spitzbergen was so entirely open in the latter parallel, that a Šamburgh ship had actually sailed along this track.
On the 15th of January, 1818, the four ships were put in commission -- the Isabella, 385 tons, and the Alexander, 252 tons -- under Captain Ross, to proceed up the middle of Davis' Strait, to a high northern latitude, and then to stretch across to the westward, in the hope of being able to pass the northern extremity of America, and reach Behring's Strait by that route. Those destined for the Polar sea were, the Dorothea, 382 tons, and the Trent, 249 tons, which were ordered to proceed between Greenland and Spitzbergen, and seek a passage through an open Polar sea, if such should be found in that direction.
I shall take these voyages in the order of their publication, Ross having given to the world the account of his voyage shortly after his return in 1819: while the narrative of the voyage of the Dorothea and Trent was only published in 1843, by Captain Beechey, who served as Lieutenant of the Trent, during the voyage.
The following were the officers, &c., of the ships under Captain Ross :
45 petty officers, seamen, and marines.
Whole complement, 57.
Alexander Lieutenant and Commander -- William Edward
Parry, (now Captain Sir Edward.) Lieutenant-H. H. Hoopner, (a first rate artist.) Purser — W. H. Hooper. Greenland Pilots — J. Allison, master; J. Philips,
mate. Admiralty Midshipmen— P. Bisson and J. Nius. Assistant Surgeon — A. Fisher. Clerk-J. Halse. 28 petty officers, seamen, &c.
Whole complement, 37. On the 2d of May, the four vessels being reported fit for sea, rendezvoused in Brassa Sound, Shetland, and the two expeditions parted company on the following day for their respective destinations.
On the 26th, the Isabella fell in with the first iceberg, which appeared to be about forty teet high and a thousand feet long. It is hardly possible to imagine any thing more exquisite than the variety of tints which these icebergs display; by night as well as by day they glitter with a vividness of color beyond the power of art to represent. While the white portions have the brilliancy of silver, their acolors are as various and splendid as those of the rainbow; their ever-changing disposition producing effects as singular as they are new and interesting to those who have not seen them before.
On the 17th of June, they reached Waygatt Sound, beyond Disco Island, where they found forty-five whalers detained by the ice. Waygatt Island, from observations taken on shore, was found to be 50 longitude and 30 miles of latitude from the situation as laid down in the Admiralty Charts.
They were not able to get away from here till the 20th, when the ice began to break. By cutting passages