21 AUGUST 1852, Page 16


SUTHERLAND'S JOURNAL OF PENNY'S VOYAGE IN SEARCH OF FRANKLIN.* OF the four expeditions that started in 1860 in search of Sir John Franklin—the American, the vessel under the command of the vete- ran Sir James Ross, the squadron of steamers and sailing-vessels, and Mr. Penny's—the last undoubtedly was the most satisfactory in its results, especially when its paucity of means compared with those of the larger Government expedition is considered. This was chiefly owing to the long experience of Mr. Penny in command of a whaler, and to his faith. That habitual faculty which in prac- tical matters supersedes reason and almost seems instinct, en- abled him to see and seize opportunities of action among the ice which many men would have lost, and to jump to just conclusions as to the course to be pursued, when even he could give no rea- son for his decision, except his experience. It was this faculty which sometimes enabled him in ice-fields to beat Captain Austin's vessels in spite of steam and to penetrate as far as they did. His exploration of Wellington Channel, his discovery and partial examination of thegulf beyond, were mainly owing to a belief, which it seems he could not convey to others' that Franklin had taken that course. This trusting faith of the hardy seaman forms a strong contrast to the more critical conclusion of Captain Austin. That officer appears to have formed an early opinion either that Franklin's ships could not be reached at all, or not from the di- rection of Baffin's Bay and Lancaster Sound ; but that whether they could or could not, it was quite impracticable for any of the vessels then in Barrow's Strait to render them assistance. This opinion was probably the correct one ; Penny himself seems to have entertained it in spite of his wishes. When he first came upon the water beyond Wellington Channel, at a place called from that circumstance Point Surprise, he gave spontaneous utterance to his thoughts. "The moment I passed over Point Surprise, the ex- pression that escaped me was, No one will ever reach Sir John Franklin ; here we are, and no traces are to be found ' : BO we re- turned to the sledges very much disappointed." And a similar feeling arose after he had brought his beat to the water, and was finally compelled to return, from failure of provisions. "I erected a cairn, and took another view of the expanse of water that was before my eyes—Oh, to have been here only with my two little vessels ! what could we not have done in the way of search ! But I greatly fear, if we had, the missing ships are beyond our reach. That there is a large Arctic sea be- yond this Channel, in which the ice is constantly in motion, there can be no doubt : for where could all the ice have gone to? where does the compara- tively fresh drift-wood come from ? It must be from America or Siberia, and that through a body of drifting ice. Had Sir Sethi Franklin left documents, surely he would have done so upon this headland- or Dundee Island: We found none ; Mr. Stewart was in the same state ; we were all in the same predicament as when winter-quarters were discovered by us in August 1850. At midnight we turned into our sleeping-bags."

Still, although Captain Austin may have been right in his determination to return, the critical or sceptical faculty is not the faculty for action. More, perhaps he might not have done by persevering in the direction of Melville Island than his boats had already accomplished; but it is to be regretted that he did not, when the water was clearing in Barrow's Straits' attempt to send his steamers in a Westerly direction. It is in taking immediate advantage of temporary openings and calm weather that steam would seem to be of use in Arctic navigation. It is evident that it is of little permanent avail, since those ships which had no assist- ance from steam got as far as those which were assisted.

The voyage out through Davis's Strait and the Eastern side of Baf- fin's Bay—the attempt to penetrate Jones's Sound, and the passage through Lancaster Sound to Assistance Harbour near the entrance to Wellington Channel—are interesting from Dr. Sutherland's ob- servations upon nature, and his description of the incidents of the voyage, though these resemble other Northern voyages. The nar- rative of the writer's winter sojourn and the return owe their at- traction to the same causes. The great feature of the voyage, and that which most fully displays the indomitable endurance and cheerful courage of the British sailor, is the exploration of Wellington Channel, and the water beyond it, now named the Queen's Channel. The first was thoroughly explored, and the shores of the Queen's Channel surveyed for some distance, by sledge-parties working over the ice ; while Penny, as soon as he discovered open water returned to the ships for a whale- boat to traverse the tempting sea. This gallant effort was to a great extent baffled by the weather. For a month the wind was almost constantly adverse blowing the loose ice that was floating in Queen's Channel, and the supposed sea beyond it, into the straits formed by several islands that separate Wellington from Queen's Channel, and blocking them up. Here the party remained examining the land when the water was entirely closed, or the sea too dangerous to venture upon, but launching their boat when- ever a chance of getting on occurred. In all these explorations, there is a continual exhibition of what men can be trained to undergo and undergo cheerfully : hard labour in dragging sledges over surfaces that the landsman would find it difficult to move upon ; hardships in wading through slush and water, sleeping upon snow, and faring coarsely ; suffering from cold, wet, frost- bites, and snow blindness. Yet, except when a weaker constitution

* Journal of a Voyage in Baffin's Bay and Barrow Straits, in the years 1850-1851, performed by IL M. Ships "Lady Franklin" and "Sophia," under the command of Mr. William Penny, in search of the Missing Crews of H. M. Ships Erebus and Terror ; with a Narrative of Sledge Excursions on the Ice of Wellington Channel ; and Observations on the Physical Features of the Countries and Frozen Seas visited. By Peter C. Sutherland, M.D., M.R.C.S.E., Surgeffil to the Raped/Um. In two volumes. Published by Longman and co, occasionally gave way, all was borne cheerily, and privation or hardship made a joke of.

Of the different narratives of this search, that of Mr. Penny, in- serted in a distinct chapter, is the most interesting, from the hopes that are excited, and the mystery hanging over the unexplored waters. It has also a further feature, as bringing out the ardent, unaffected, transparent character of the mariner. We have already quoted his first thoughts touching his power of reaching Franklin, and similar displays are frequent in his journal. But it has matter of deeper interest, both as regards danger and the striking scenes of Arctic nature. It was their custom to empty their boat to sleep in, after hauling it into a place of safety ; which, however, was not always secure.

"Wednesday, July 24—The first few hours of morning we had a partial breeze from the Eastward, which brought the ice out of the channel. It came tearing along the land at a fearful rate, turning up immense hummocks in its progress. I felt very restless and could not sleep. The boat began to move a little. I took it into my head that there was a bear outside. My hand was upon my pistol, and all ready for action : I put out my head be- neath the lower edge of the covering of the boat, and it was well I did so at the time, for immense hummocks were tumbling over and over, with the pressure within a few yards of us. No one waited to put on his clothes, for each flew to the provisions, and conveyed them uto the face of the preci- pice' and then to the boat to attend to its safety. The ice on which it rested was broken into several pieces, and thrown very much from its level, by the pressure among the hummocks around it. In the middle of the channel it was truly fearful, and could be compared to nothing but an earthquake. Some pieces were rising to a height of twenty feet, and tumbled down with tremendous crashing and rending. We again turned in beneath our cover- ing; but little sleep was obtained, for every one was peeping from beneath the housing-cloth."

The observations of Dr. Sutherland on glaciers, icebergs, their transport and dissolution, contain many valuable facts in relation to geology. A scene singular in itself, and showing how soil and its contents may readily be carried to ice and thence transported seaward, took place in Assistance Harbour, when the warmth of summer assisted by rain had accumulated water and partially melted the snow.

"July 6th.—The heavy rain of the preceding night caused an accumula- tion of water in some of tile lakes around Assistance Bay, which the snow in the water-courses leading from them was unable to dam up any longer. There had been some water making its way to the sea from the lakes through the ravines which were full of snow, but it was not in great quantity, for the channel which it bad established for itself was not sufficient to carry it off in due proportion to the accumulation in the reservoirs above. Probably there might have been a temporary blocking up of the channel by snow, which would certainly account for the accumulation. At an early hour in the morning we were roused by the sound of an advancing stream. A small lake on the East side of the harbour burst open the barrier of snow which opposed its exit from its tranquil bed, and its contents dashed with impetuous violence to the harbour„carrying masses of snow from the sides of the ravine through which it had to seek its way. A portion of the harbour was inundated, but a wide crack in the ice permitted the water to pass through without spreading over the whole harbour. At the part where the water issued from the beach, the ice was covered with blocks of snow, five or six feet high. This ought to give an idea of the depth of water which would be necessary to float such huge masses. However, all these blocks did not float down; for their course was of a more destructive character both to them- selves and the bottom of the stream. Standing at the border of the roaring stream, which we knew would not continue above a few hours, we could watch the descent of the large cubes of snow as they were hurried along,— now coming to a stand and damming up the water as it went foaming over them ; now sliding along the bottom, as if they were reluctant to leave the place which had afforded them shelter for so long a time ; and now roll- ing over and over, until they came to a dead stand by the water shallowing as its surface became more extensive. We visited the lake, and found that it was almost dry. Its situation was one favourable to a violent debacle such as we had just witnessed. In the evening a similar occurrence look place on the opposite side of the harbour, but of much greater extent. A chain of small lakes beyond Prospect Hill burst open, and, rushing with great violence along the hitherto almost dry water-course tearing up messes of rock, and bearing down a burden of white mud set free among the rolling stones at the bottom, they spread their contents over the whole of the harbour ; for there was no crack in the ice which could transmit such a large body of water into the sea. The sounds of running streams had become so familiar to our ears that no notice was taken of this sudden discharge, until a person went on deck, and exclaimed, that the ice in the harbour ha all disappeared, except the hummocks, which were still to be seen above the surface of the water. 'Surely,' he continued, the ice must have sunk.' A moment's reflection, however, convinced him that it 'was all a delusion. The white colour of the water thus spread over the ice in the harbour appeared in very striking constrast with the blue sea in the offing. On the following day it had all disappeared, and the ice through which it had percolated was covered with a coating of the mud which it had brought down. '

The following is a sample of risks in returning from a visit in. the Arctic regions.

"Mr. Stewart, who accompanied Captain Ommanney and his party to Griffith's Island, said that they narrowly escaped being drifted down Barrow Straits, after the boat was sent back by them, having reached the floe' over 'which they intended to travel to the ships. The weather was very thick, and as they thought that a short cut could be made across the ice, which I told them was only four miles in breadth to the ships, they disembarked and commenced their march. After they had been travelling three hours, I be- lieve, in what they thought was the direction of the ships—for they could not see above three hundred yards through the mist, they came to the North edge of the ice, and found a lane of water extending from East to West, about three to five hundred yards in breadth ; so broad, indeed, that they could only catch a faint glimpse of the ice on the opposite side. They must have looked into one another's faces, when they were thus arrested in a thick mist on a drifting floe. However, 'nil eat desperandtun mortalibus ' : they looked first at one another, and then up and down for a fragment of ice of sufficient dimensions to ferry them across to the opposite side. In this too they were almost foiled, for the floe on which they stood presented a straight edge, with hardly a single loose fragment. At length, by dint of persever- ance, a detached piece was found that appeared suitable ; and on this the whole party, I think of five persons, embarked, first stripping to a single covering, that they might be in readiness to save themselves by swimming, if the frail boat to which they intrusted their lives should yield them up to tbe deep blue water by which it was borne. They used their guns as paddles,

and the utmost caution was observed lest a sudden motion should upset them :. each took his place, and dared not move from it, although his feet, protected only by stockings, were excruciatingly cold. It would 'be difficult to know whether they were shivering from cold or fear. Stewart told me that one of the party said, on reaching and landing on the opposite ice, Thank God I that makes one think of his wife and weak family.' They arrived at the squadron in a short time ; and so terminated safely, like all the others, one of the visits to Assistance Harbour."

"Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink!" is a more literal truth in the Arctic regions than in the scene of the Ancient Mariner. Melt the snow, and you are refreshed; eat it, and lo the consequences! "The use of snow when persons are thirsty does not by any means allay their insatiable desire for water; • on the contrary, it appears to be increased in proportiOn to the quantity used, and the frequency with which it is put into the mouth. For example, a person wing along feels intensely thirsty, and he looks to his feet with coveting eyes; but his good sense and firm resolutions are not to be overcome so e. aily, and he withdraws the open hand that was to grasp the delicious morsel and convey it into his parching mouth : he has several miles of a journey to accomplish, and his thirst is

every moment increasing ; he is perspiring profusely, and feels quite hot and oppressed : at length his good resolutions stagger, and he partakes of

the smallest particle which produces a most exhilarating effect; in less than ten minutes he tastes again and again, always increasing the quantity, and in half an hour he has a gum-stick of condensed snow, which he masticates with avidity, and replaces with assiduity the moment that it has melted away : but his thirst is not allayed in the slightest degree ; he is as hot as ever, and still perspires; his mouth is in flames, and ho is driven to the ne- cessity of quenching them with snow ; which adds fuel to the fire ; the melt- ing snow ceases to please the palate, and it feels like red-hot coals, which, like a fire-eater, he shifts about with his tongue, and swallows without the addition of saliva : he is in despair, but habit has taken the place of his rea- soning faculties, and he moves on with languid steps, lamenting the severe fate which forces him to persist in a practice which in an unguarded moment

he allowed to begin. •

"I believe the true cause of such intense thirst is the extreme dryness of the air when the temperature is low. In this state it abstracts a large amount of moisture from the human body. The soft and extensive surface which the lungs expose twenty-five times or oftener every minute to near- ly two hundred cubic inches of dry air, must yield a quantity of vapour which one can hardly spare with impunity. The human skin throughout its whole extent, even where it is brought to the hardness of horn, as well as the softest and most delicate parts, is continually exhaling vapour, and this exhalation creates in due proportion a demand for water. Let a person but examine the inside of his boots after a walk in the open air at a low tempe- rature, and the accumulation of condensed vapour which he finds there will convince him of the active state of the skin. I often found my stockings adhering to the soles of my Kilby's boots after a walk of a few hours. The hoar frost and snow which they contained could not have been there by any other means except exhalation from the akin."

A school was one mode of passing the winter. Dr. Sutherland's remarks upon the scholars have a metaphysical interest, as well as that of a picture of man in strange circumstances.

"The school was conducted four nights in the week, and three hours each night, in the half-decks, by the medical officers of both ships ; and, generally speaking, the men appeared to be very desirous to improve in the various branches of a common school education. Reading, writing, and arithmetic, were attended to, and occasionally geography was introduced. Some of them were really very ignorant; and those were the persons who were least desi- rous to learn anything that cost them an effort. It was heartless work for the man of thirty-five, who had been married for fifteen years, to sit for hours together poring over the simplest arithmetical calculations. There were about a dozen III the Sophia who gave fair promise that before win- ter was over they should be able to work a lunar distance, or navigate a ship to any part of the world. They all appeared to be interested in geo- graphy ; and although we were very deficient in geographical books and maps, having only one very old map of the world, and a single copy of that excellent work'Johnston's Physical Atlas,' which did not belong to the ship, it was astonishing with what facility a very correct idea of the form of the earth, the distribution of land and water, the sources, directions, and terminations of the rivers, the mountain chains, with their heights, the ex- tent and boundaries of kingdoms, the distribution of heat and cold, of ani- mals, and of the varieties of the human race, was obtained by persons who could hardly sign their names, when practical illustrations of the various subjects were made. "It was found that much good was to be done by bringing geography be- fore them; for generally, after they were left by their teachers, discussions were commenced,whether Cape Horn is an island, or the Chinese are all Ro- manists like the Mexicans, and whether the crocodiles of the Nile and the alligators of the Mississippi are the same species of animals ; and it was often necessary to reply to their interrogations, and to settle disputes, upon which had been exhausted all the experience they could accumulate in the forecastle, where there were persons who had been in all parts of the world."

This is a striking natural picture—the dissolution of an iceberg in Baffin's Bay.

"From four o'clock in the morning till ten, for six hours, our attention was continually attracted by the thundering noise and convulsive motions of an iceberg, which happened to be crumbling to pieces in the act of changing its position in the water. It was of immense size, not less than two hun- dred and fifty feet above the surface of the water, and half a mile in length and breadth. It could be compared to a cube each of the sides of which would measure half a mile. The upper surface was perfectly horizontal, but presenting a rough pinnacled appearance, as if a number of rough ir- regularly pointed conical eminences, varying from twenty to thirty feet in height, had been closely planted side by side on it. The sides were per- fectly perpendicular, and almost quite straight; but they appeared to be a little fissured, as if the depressions between the pinnacles had been continued a little downwards, in the form of cracks or narrow crevices. • • * "When an immense iceberg begins to tumble to pieces and change its po- sition in the water, the sight is really grand, perhaps one that can vie with an earthquake. Masses inconceivably great, four times the size of St. Paul's Cathedral or Westminster Abbey, are submerged in the still blue water,. to appear again at the surface, rolling and heaving gigantically. in the swelling waves. Volumes of spray rise like clouds of white vapour into the air all round, and shut out the beholder from a scene too sacred for eyes not im- mortal. The sound that is emitted is not second to terrific peals of thundsr, . or the discharge of whole parks of artillery. The sea, smooth and tranquil, is aroused, and oscillations travel ten or twelve miles in every direction; aud. if ice should cover its surface in one entire sheet, it becomes broken up into detached pieces, in the same manner as if the swell of an extensive sea or ocean had reached it. And, before a quiescent state is assumed, probably two or three large icebergs occupy its place, the tops of some of which may

be at an elevation of upwards of two hundred feet, having in the course of the revolution turned up the blue mud from the bottom at a depth of two to three hundred fathoms."

So many accounts of Arctic Expeditions have been published within the last thirty years, that even their strange and striking scenes have lost something of their novelty. Interest as well as variety, however, are given to Dr. Sutherland's narrative by the pursuits of the author. The profession of medicine and a taste for natural history not only directed his attention to the hygienic circumstances of the voyrtge and the wintering, as well as to the many rare facts in natural history that such a voyage would produce, but they have coloured the work by constant pictures of external nature. This feature continually varies the monotony of a sea-voyage by exhibiting some of the wonders of the deep, and gives animation to the barrenness of the Arctic regions by calling attention to the vegetable, insect, and animal life, with which the most rigorous regions are teeming at times.