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Can Franklin be Alive?
Beechey Island by Captain Penny's officers, and the still more expressive relics procured by Dr. Rae, in Pelly Bay, prove that the generous exertions of the Americans were wasted on a shore and in a quarter which Franklin never attempted to reach.
Secondly, there are men of high standing and experience who still believe that some members of that hapless squadron may yet exist. Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, in a letter addressed to Lieutenant Bedford Pim, remarks that he must be a very in'credulous person who doubts that, at this moment (Dec. 1856), several of our abandoned and almost forgotten countrymen are 'sheltering themselves in snow-huts, swallowing morsels of frozen 'seal or walrus, and, at the same time, chewing the bitter cud of 'their country's want of gratitude, want of faith, and want of 'honour.'* Would that there were any good reason for participating in this view! Share it we cannot. Nearly twelve years of absence are sufficient to freeze every hope of Franklin's return. Too plain a dilemma stares us in the face to permit any indulgence in such benevolent credulity. If the wanderers are living, what could have locked them up for so long a time in these regions of ice, and prevented their return to the South ?— or if, on the other hand, their circumstances were such as absolutely to interdict their escape, must they not also have been such as to extinguish life before a dozen winters could elapse? But Dr. Kane's narrative seems to us to negative the idea that a band of Europeans could weather more than a few of the long dreary Arctic nights, even with Esquimaux resources at their command. Not that he expresses any opinion to this effect-his leaning is perhaps quite in the contrary direction. But it is perfectly clear from his pages that a third winter in Rensellaer Harbour would have been fatal to many of his own crew, and in all probability would have swept the dormitory of the Advance with the 'besom of destruction. There were periods, as we have seen, when the illness of a single man, or the absence of food for another day, might have decided the fate of the whole party, trembling as the balance frequently was, between life and death, and tilted only by some providential event. It is true that the American was imprisoned in a much more northerly position than that in which the Englishman was probably arrested, but still it was in a latitude haunted by Esquimaux; and, as it is ever urged, that where natives exist, Europeans may manage to live, the experience of this expedition is as available as if the vessel had been shut up in the ice in Peel Sound, or in the neighbourhood of King William's Land. Now it is stated by Dr. Kane, that the *See Lieutenant Bedford Pim's Earnest Appeal, p. 18.
inhabitants of the coast are a perishing race. They themselves appear to be unable to cope with the climate. They know that they are hastening to extinction, 'dying out, not lingeringly, like the American tribes, but so rapidly as to be able to mark, within a generation, their progress' towards extirpation. In fact, as we have seen, the nearest little colony to the brig was probably preserved from death in 1855 by the opportune arrival of Hans and his fowling-piece. And to what but a contraction of the breed, a shrivelling up of the inhabitants, can we ascribe many of the deserted huts which spot the shores wherever the Arctic voyager has proceeded? But there is another grave objection to the argument derived from native powers of endurance. Franklin and his associates were not Esquimaux: they were not born in snow huts, cradled in ice, nursed on blubber, brought up on walrus' flesh, and exposed from infancy to the fierce frosts and biting temperatures of the Polar Circle. English constitutions will brave much, but they could not be expected, under circumstances of hardship, and when enfeebled by excessive toil, to support the rigours of a climate under which the idle and insouciant barbarians are themselves decaying. The effect of a northern imprisonment on Europeans is not simply to sap the bodily strength, but it has a strange tendency to produce mental prostration. The state in which the crew of the Investigator was found after their long confinement in Mercy Bay, is too recent and too striking a case to be forgotten. Well might Dr. Kane exclaim, even during the first winter in Rensellaer harbour, 'As I look round upon the pale faces and haggard looks of my 'comrades, I feel that we are fighting the battle of life at disadvantage, and that an Arctic night and an Arctic day age a man 'more rapidly and harshly than a year anywhere else in all this weary world.'
The geographical results of Dr. Kane's expedition, however, are of considerable interest. Foremost is the discovery of the Great Glacier of Humboldt, the most stupendous frost-work of the species on which the eye of man has ever rested. Had there been no other fruit from his adventures, we doubt not that he would have considered himself well repaid for his exertions by the sight of this giant production of the ice-world, crawling like a serpent across the land, and exhibiting the undulations of hill and valley by the archings and inflexions of its form-ploughing up the ground on either hand into huge wrinkles, and furrowing the rocks beneath with the points of its mail-its head dipping into the sea as if the thirsty reptile had come down from its lair to drain the great basin at a draught-the flakes of foam from its jaws, and the scales from its neck floating off on the recoiling
billows in the shape of white bergs, whilst far away in the interior of the country the extremity of the immeasurable monster lay uncoiled among the snow-clad mountains which were the birth-place of its being and the nursery of its strength.
Next, the new territory, to which the name of Washington has been given, was explored for some distance, until the survey was stopped by a steep overhanging headland, Cape Independence, in lat. 81° 22′ N. This tract is an extension of the Greenland Coast, or if distinct ground, the interval is spanned by the icy viaduct of Humboldt. On the opposite side of the Channel-let the reader suppose himself in the Straits of Dover, where the continent may roughly represent Greenland-the coast (say of the Eastern Counties, but here known as Grinnell Land) was charted for a still greater distance, the remotest point observed being a lofty mountain, to which the name of Parry was appropriately given. This rocky beacon, situate in lat. 82° 30′, is the nearest land to the pole which has yet been sighted.
Lastly-for we need not advert to minor surveys-what light did the expedition throw upon the great problem of a Polar Sea? To their great surprise the party sent out to the north found that the floe in Smith's Strait-call it Dover Straits-became broken as they advanced; then great lanes of water appeared, in which a frigate might sail with ease; afterwards the ice grew scarce, and the surf broke full upon the naked rocks, until at length the channel 'expanded into an iceless area; for four or 'five small pieces, lumps, were all that could be seen over the 'entire surface of its white-capped waters. Viewed from the cliffs, and taking thirty-six miles as the mean radius open to reliable survey, this sea had a justly-estimated extent of more than four 'thousand square miles.' Like Balboa, when he first caught sight of the Pacific Ocean-' sublime upon a peak in Darien-Mr. Morton, who made the discovery, could scarcely trust his eyes as he stood upon the height which brought this unexpected vision within reach of his gaze. Here, in a region where frost turns the very surges into icy heaps, and where the mountains pour down solid streams, there lay an ocean whose waves were as free and unfettered in their play as if they were sporting in rippled smiles or heaving with billowy laughter beneath the light of a Mediterranean sun. Dr. Kane does not attempt to say how far it may extend-whether it exists simply as a feature of the immediate region, or as part of the great unexplored area communicating with a Polar basin.' He is right in being cautious on the question. All is not gold that glitters. A sheet of melted snow, overlying a field of ice has more than once been mistaken for open water. Ships, too, have sailed one year
But the fact that the
where sledges have been driven the next. approaches to this basin, for a distance of more than fifty miles, were tolerably free from ice-the absence of all drift after a heavy gale of many hours' duration, coming from the north-east, the myriads of birds which skimmed the waters and lined the rocks, certainly afford some presumption that the liquidity of this area is not a mere transitory phenomenon, and that large expanses of fluid may exist beyond the poles of maximum cold.
We have but little space for an allusion to the Earnest Appeal of Lieutenant Bedford Pim. This enterprising young officer was attached to the Resolute-one of the vessels abandoned by Sir Edward Belcher's orders, and which has been so gracefully returned by the American authorities. He has seen a considerable amount of Arctic service. It was he who acted as the Angel of Deliverance to the crew of M'Clure's vessel when impounded in Mercy Bay, and who therefore constituted the last living link in the chain of discovery which solved the problem of the North-west Passage. In conjunction with Dr. King, so well known for his Arctic enthusiasm, he has submitted a proposal to the Admiralty for a further expedition. They advocate a sea-search, in combination with a land-journey; the former, in a small screw-steamer, by Barrow's Strait and along Peel Sound; the latter, across the American continent and down Great Fish River. The rendezvous to be at the Magnetic Pole. The superior efficacy of this plan is assumed to lie in the concerted operations of the parties, and in the employment of the smallest possible number of people, consistent with the due execution of the scheme. Such an expedition would certainly' dredge' separate tracts before the two detachments met; but the principle of mutual assistance could only be available when the junction was accomplished, and for the purpose of effecting their return home-. wards. We do not therefore discover so much 'novelty' in the proposal as to justify the idea that two such parties must succeed, where squadrons, acting in harmony, if not in unison, have completely failed. Dr. Rae's inquiries, however-inquiries confirmed by the subsequent researches of Messrs. Anderson and Stewarthave afforded some clue to the latitude and longitude of the Franklin disaster, and therefore the work of search might now be prosecuted with comparative simplicity, and with great reason to expect that some decisive intelligence would be procured.
But the British Government have settled the question in Parliament, and refused to despatch the living in search of the dead. So far as this decision is founded upon the belief that the crews of the Erebus and Terror have all perished, the nation will probably acquiesce in its propriety; but, for our own part, if there
Dr. John Tauler-Middle Age Mysticism.
353 are brave men who would be glad to undertake the service, and who would go out on the express understanding that the authorities should not be expected to despatch expeditions after them* in case they too were missing,' we should have been as well pleased to find that Government was prepared to institute another and final search. No longer compelled to steer at random amongst the Arctic islands, or to pick their way by the light of delusive theories, the adventurers would be able to concentrate their energies upon the region where the tragedy was probably enacted; and though Franklin and his comrades could no longer benefit by their generous exertions, yet, if they could return with his Journal, we have no doubt that its discovery would excite more interest than the announcement at the market-cross of Europe, that the burning of the Alexandrian Library was a pure fiction, and that the whole of that splendid collection had been exhumed.*
ART. III.-The History and Life of the Reverend Dr. John Tauler of Strasbourg; with Twenty-five of his Sermons (Temp. 1340). Translated from the German, with Additional Notices of Tauler's Life and Times, by SUSANNA WINKWORTH, and a Preface by the REV. CHARLES KINGSLEY. Smith, Elder, and Co.
It is said to have been the custom of an eastern king, whenever he saw in his travels a tree remarkable for stature or for beauty, to have it dug up, and conveyed by his elephants to the royal gardens. There it was planted (among many others, similarly transported from every part of his dominions) on an eminence called the Green Mount, directly in view of his palace windows. It was one of his choice pleasures to watch these stateliest products of his many provinces, as they put forth their leaves in their season, and developed their various tints of green, and glittered with their several kinds of fruit. every good man may enjoy a prerogative and a pleasure similar to this, if his heart be large enough. We are free to gather together, from every communion, and people, and time, the fairest specimens of Christian life. We may set them up in view of our souls as in an ideal garden of the Lord,' and find in the contemplation of them that we grow in wisdom while we grow in love. They who, by their historic labours, help us in any way to such enjoyment and such profit, are certainly entitled to our thanks. Among those to whom acknow
* Since writing the above the death of Dr. Kane has been reported.