THE UNKNOWN SHIPS.
SLownv drifting down from the frozen seas of the North, to lose themselves in the waters towards the Equator, annually come vast herds of icy rocks; crags that would be immortal in their native deserts, where land and water forget their separate nature in the common rigour of the iron frost ; but, wandering down to more living waters, those rock pinnacles melt and die. Among the herd last year was a field or floe of ice, and on that floe were two ships, idle and deserted, performing a strange helpless voyage. One smaller vessel, going to Quebec, sails near them, and they pass on their way, not unseen, as well they might have done; but they were neglected. Many in the Quebec-bound vessel wished to ex- plore those deserted wandering homes, but the master was sick and listless and would not be disturbed. Were they Franklin's ships, the Erebus and Terror? the question occurred to one person on board, but it was unsolved; and now, a year after the event, Admiralty and public are engaged in seeking evidence.
At first the story was point-blank disbelieved; then it was cre- dited as a tale of a delusive apparition, a mirage ; then it was thought possible that ships there might have been, but not Frank- lin's—only wrecked whalers. Now, however, the details of a minute examination strengthen the probability that the ships were Franklin's. No one can know; no one can as yet deny it. It is mournful to reflect, that if they were the historic ships Erebus and Terror, the last known of them should be that passing sight on their voyage of mystery. How much one would give to know all that might have been learned, positively or even negatively, from those ships! There were men on board the brig who felt the impulse, although they did not know that a reward had been offered• for the discovery. The mate, in laudable curiosity, wished " to rummage the cabins." Had he done so we should have known what the vessels were. But he did not obtain permission from the sick and listless master. Perhaps, if the reward had been known, the listlessness of disease might have been roused to animation at the report of two ships so strangely stranded. But the golden incentive was wanting, and the ships were abandoned to drift down to the sunny seas where the floating ice-dock would melt, and its burden be yielded to the waters for the quiet consummation of fate.