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with wet, cold and fatigue, they sat down in a state of despondency, upon a piece of ice, determined to submit their fate to Providence. Their troubles are thus told :
"To travel over ragged pieces of ice, upon which there were two feet of snow, and often more, springing from one slippery piece to the other, or, when the channels between them were too wide for this purpose, ferrying themselves upon detached fragments, was a work which it required no ordinary exertion to execute.
“Some fell into the water, and were with difficulty preserved from drowning by their companions; while others, afraid to make any hazardous attempt whatever, were left upon pieces of ice, and drifted about at the mercy of the winds and tides. Foreseeing the probability of a separation, they took the first opportunity of dividing, in equal shares, the small quantity of provision which they had remaining, as also their stock of powder and ammunition. They also took it in turns to fire muskets, in the hope of being heard from the ships."
The reports of the fire-arms were heard by their shipmates, and Messrs. Fife and Kirby, the Greenland icemasters; ventured out with poles and lines to their assistance, and had the good fortune to fall in with the party, and bring them safely on board, after eighteen hours' absence. They determined in future to rest satisfied with the view of the shore which was afforded them from the ship, having not the slightest desire to attempt to approach it again by means of the ice.
The pressure of the ice against the vessels now became very great.
"At one time, when the Trent appeared to be so closely wedged up that it did not seem possible for her to be moved, she was suddenly lifted four feet by an enormous mass of ice getting under her keel ; at another, the fragments of the crumbling floe were piled up under the bowe, to the great danger of the bowsprit.
“The Dorothea was in no less inminent danger, especially from the point of a floe, which came in contact with her side, where it remained a short time, and then glanced off, and became checked by the field to wbich
sible, a cable was cut up into thirty-feet lengths, and these, with plates of iron four feet square, which had been supplied to us as fenders, together with some walrus' hides, were hung round the vessels, especially about the bows. The masts, at the same time, were secured with additional ropes, and the hatches were battened and nailed down. By the time these precautions had been taken, our approach to the breakers only left us the alternative of either permitting the ships to be drifted broadside against the ice, and so to take their chance, or of endeavoring to force fairly into it by putting before the wind. At length, the hopeless state of a vessel placed broadside against so formidable a body became apparent to all, and we resolved to attempt the latter expedient."
Eagerly, but in vain, was the general line of the pack scanned, to find one place more open than the other. All parts appeared to be equally impenetrable, and to present one unbroken line of furious breakers, in which immense pieces of ice were heaving and subsiding with the waves, and dashing together with a violence which nothing apparently but a solid body could withstand, occasioning such a noise that it was with the greatest difficulty the officers could make their orders heard by the crew.
The fearful aspect of this appalling scene is thue sketched by Captain Beechey :
“No language, I am convinced, can convey an ado quate idea of the terrific grandeur of the effect now produced by the collision of the ice and the tempestuous ocean. The sea, violently agitated and rolling its mountainous waves against an opposing body, is at all times a sublime and awful sight; but when, in addition, it encounters immense masses, which it has set in motion with a violence equal to its own, its effect is prodigiously increased. At one moment it bursts upon
these icy fragments and buries them many feet beneath its wave, and the next, as the buoyancy of the depressed body struggles for reascendancy, the water rushes in foaming cataracts over its edges ; while every indi.
vidual mass, rocking and laboring in its bed, grinds against and contends with its opponent, until one is either split with the shock or upheaved upon the surface of the other. Nor is this collision confined to any particular spot; it is going on as far as the sight can reach; and when from this convulsive scene below, the eye is turned to the extraordinary appearance of the blink in the sky above, where the unnatural clearness of a calm and silvery atmosphere presents itself, bounded by a dark, hard line of stormy clouds, such as at this moment lowered over our masts, as if to mark the confines within which the efforts of man would be of no avail. The reader may imagine the sensation of awe which must accompany that of grandeur in the mind of the beholder."
"If ever," continues the narrator, “the fortitude of seamen was fairly tried, it was assuredly not less so on this occasion ; and I will not conceal the pride I felt in witnessing the bold and decisive tone in which the orders were issued by the commander (the present Captain Sir John Franklin) of our little vessel, and the promptitude and steadiness with which they were executed by the crew."
As the laboring vessel flew before the gale, she soon neared the scene of danger.
" Each person instinctively secured his own hold, and with his eyes fixed upon the masts, awaited in breathless anxiety the moment of concussion.
" It soon arrived --the brig, (Trent) cutting her way through the light ice, came in violent contact with the main body. In an instant we all lost our footing; the masts bent with the impetus, and the cracking timbers from below bespoke a pressure which was calculated to awaken our serious apprehensions. The vessel staggered under the shock, and for a moment seemed to recoil; but the next wave, curling up under ber counter, drove her about her own length within the margin of the ice, where she gave one roll, and was immediately thrown broa:lside to the wind' by the succeeding wave, which beat furiously against her stern, and
brought her lee-side in contact with the main body, leaving her weather-side exposed at the same time to a piece of ice about twice her own dimensions. This unfortunate occurrence prevented the vessel penetrating sufficiently far into the ice to escape the effect of the gale, and placed her in a situation where she was assailed on all sides by battering-rams, if I may use the expression, every one of which contested the small space which she occupied, and dealt such unrelenting blows, that there appeared to be scarcely any possibility of saving her from foundering. Literally tossed from piece to piece, we had nothing left but patiently to abide the issue ; for we could scarcely keep our feet, much less render any assistance to the vessel. The motion, indeed, was so great, that the ship’s bell, which, in the heaviest gale of wind, had never struck of itself
, now tolled so continually, that it was ordered to be muffled, for the purpose of escaping the unpleasant as sociation it was calculated to produce.
“In anticipation of the worst, we determined to at tempt placing the launch upon the ice under the lee, and hurried into her such provisions and stores as could at the moment be got at. Serious doubts were reasonably entertained of the boat being able to live among the confused mass by which we were encompassed; yet as this appeared to be our only refuge, we clung to it with all the eagerness of a last resource.
From the injury the vessel repeatedly received, it became very evident that if subjected to this concussion for any time, she could not hold together long; the. only chance of escape, therefore, appeared to depend upon getting before the wind, and penetrating further into the ice.
To effect this with any probability of success, it became necessary to set more head-sail, though at the risk of the masts, already tottering with the pressure of that which was spread. By the expertness of the seamen, more sail was spread, and under this additional pressure of canvass, the ship came into the desired position, and with the aid of an enormous mass under
the stern, she split a small field of ice, fourteen feet in thickness, which had hitherto impeded her progress, and effected a passage for herself between the pieces.
In this improved position, by carefully placing the protecting fenders between the ice and the ship's sides, the strokes were much diminished, and she managed to weather out the gale, but lost sight of her consort in the clouds of spray which were tossed about, and the huge intervening masses of ice among which they were embayed. On the gale moderating, the ships were fortunately got once more into an open sea, although both disabled, and one at least, the Dorothea, which had sustained the heavy shocks, in a foundering condition. For the main object of the expedition they were now useless, and, both being in a leaky_state, they bore up for Fair Haven, in Spitzbergen. In approaching the anchorage in South Gat, the Trent bounded over a sunken rock, and struck hard, but this, after their recent danger, was thought comparatively light of..
On examining the hulls of the vessels, it was found they had sustained frightful injuries. The intermediate lining of felt between the timbers and planks seems to have aided greatly in enabling the vessels to sustain the repeated powerful shocks they had encountered. Upon consulting with his officers, Captain Buchan came to the opinion that the most prudent course, was to patch up the vessels for their return voyage. Lieutenant Franklin preferred an urgent request that he might be allowed to proceed in his own vessel upon the interesting service still unexecuted; but this could not be complied with, in consequence of the hazard to the crew of proceeding home singly in a vessel so shattered and unsafe as the Dorothea. After refitting, they put to sea at the end of August, and reached England by the middle of October.
FRANKLIN'S FIRST LAND EXPEDITION, 1819-21.
In 1819, on the recommendation of the Lords of the Admiralty, Capt. Franklin was appointed to command