23 SEPTEMBER 1882, Page 18


ALTHOUGH we have been for some time familiar in a general way with the proceedings and results of the Schwatka Search Expedition, which, as our readers will remember, returned from the Arctic regions in September, 1880, Colonel Gilder's book, giving as it does not merely interesting and minute details of the labours and suffering e of the heroic little band of explorers, but also much information about the manners and modes of life of various tribes of the Inuit people, is a valuable addition to what, it seems, is now comprehensively designated as A.rtico- logy." The Schwatka search differs from the many others which have sought for Sir John Franklin, or for the relics of that brave man and his hapless followers, in that it consisted mainly of sledge journeys, carried out under circumstances of unprece- dented hardship, these journeys having been successful mainly because those who undertook them contrived not only to accli- matise themselves to a considerable extent, but also to exist upon the same food and under the same conditions as the people of the inhospitable regions which surround the North Pole. They went out, of course, in summer ; but instead of immediately commencing their labours, they established themselves in tents at D6pot Island, and passed the whole winter in making ac- quaintance with E squim aux, in joining in their hunting parties, in carrying on preliminary investigations, in practising sledg- ing, and in procuring goad dogs, so that by the middle of April they were ready for a start, the advantages of deferring such explorations until the winter snows should have melted being so manifest, that it is surprising that they should not earlier have been taken into account. The

Schwatka's Starch. By William H. Gilder. London: Sampson Low and Co.

expedition originated in a story brought home by an American whaling captain, to the effect that a quantity of books and papers were reported by the Esquimaux of Repulse Bay to have been deposited many years previously, by white men in a, cairn not far from that place ; and though the tale after- wards proved to be groundless in most of its particulars, it so fired the ambition of Lieutenant Sehwatka that he obtained permission from General Sherman to command an Arctic exploration party, and started on June 19th, 1878, in the 4 Eothen,' a vessel fitted out for the purpose, with the help of private subscriptions, by Messrs. Morrison and Brown, shipping merchants, of New York. Only four besides the commander composed the personnel of this daring little party, namely, the author, who had already, as he tells us, seen a good deal of active service, and. who was selected as the correspondent of the New York Herald ; Henry Klutschak, a civil engineer of some Antic experience ; a whaleman, named Frank Melms, and. Joseph Eberbing, alias Esquimau Joe, who had been with Hall and Hayes, and had also made one of our own Pandora '

expedition. •

After passing many icebergs, some of which are described as surpassingly beautiful, they came, on August 1st, in full sight of the most desolate region it was possible to conceive, "A succession of hills of bald rock, with occasional patches of snow and moss ; not a house, nor a tree, nor, in fact, any sign of animal or vegetable life ; and yet I longed," says the author, "to put my foot upon that barren soil, and commence the work before us." That work, as we have already said, did not in reality begin until eight months later, although the intervening time was by no means wasted ; and; in fact, the trip to Marble Island, made almost wholly on foot, in which two of the party were very near dying of starvation, must have afforded no little insight into the difficulties and requirements of Arctic, journeys ; as did also Lieutenant Schwatka.'s mid-winter excur- sion in the direction of Wager River, a reconnaissance which determined him upon taking that route when the expedition finally started, although it led him over ground unknown both to previous explorers and to any natives with whom he had -come in contact.

Three heavily-laden sledges, drawn by forty-two fine dogs obtained from the Kinnepatoos, carried a small amount of civilised food—about one. month's provisions—with ammunition and. other impedimenta, for the party of seventeen, thirteen of whom consisted of Esquimaux, with their wives and children, for, without natives to act -as interpreters and dog-drivers, and to coat the runners of the sledges with ice, the expedition must have been an utter failure ; and an Inuit never makes a journey Without a woman to attend to his comfort, in the way of making and mending his foot-gear, and affording him material help in many another way. One of these people was also a very skilful hunter, displaying an amount of determination and energy quite foreign to the 'national character. Poor Toolooah attached himself. so strongly to the white men, that when the time came to part from them, he was actually afraid to trust himself to say good-bye. But, indeed, the regret- ful feeling was also strongly shared by the explorers, and this is not to be wondered. at, since the writer tells us that " these simple children of the ice" had, so to speak, adopted the strangers, going so far as to refrain from food in a time of famine, in order to divide their last morsel—some walrus-hide, that had been saved to make soles for their boots—between the white men and their own children. This little trait serves to show us to what straits the brave Americans were often reduced, although they had learned to eat, and. even to relish, almost anything that an Inuit consumes.

In the weary march from Hudson's Bay to Cape Felix, and the return journey, with the divergent excursions on each side in quest of relies, nothing bore more hardly upon the travellers than the strange phenomenon of perpetual day ; and Colonel Gilder tells us that depressing as is naturally the long night of the Arctic regions, it is never interminable at any point yet visited by man ; while there is .nothing to diminish the power exerted over the system by the continuous daylight, which seems, until one has become accustomed to it, to change the face of nature, causing unrest, nervousness, want of appetite, and. all the disagreeable results of protraded vigils, besides a terrible amount of suffer- ing from sunburn and snow-blindness. A curious fact with regard to the latter malady is that short-sighted people seem to be exempt from it, and that it appears to be more malignant

in proportion to the strength of the visual organs, the natives, who all have very long sight, being martyrs to it.

From the Ooqueesiksillik and. Netchillik tribes a good deal of interesting information was obtained regarding the objects of the search. The latter people, who are reputed to be extremely warlike, and held in dread by the other Esquimaux, drew up in battle array before their igloos, and sent out an old woman as amba.ssa,dress to the strangers, on the calculation that should. their designs be hostile and the envoy be killed, their fighting strength would not be reduced. A curious portrait is given of this old lady, whose sole weapon was a knife, incapable of inflict- ing much injury, its blade being worked out of hoop-iron or copper, and fastened into a long handle of reindeer horn. As soon, however, as she shouted out that the new arrivals were white men, bows and. arrows were laid, aside, and a friendly welcome offered. This was at an inlet west of Richardson Point, or " Nu-oo-tar-ro," as it is called *by the natives, three miles from which is the boat-place -where perished the last sur- vivors of the Franklin Expedition, and also, in all probability, the records, since the natives spoke of having found several skulls, a box of human bones, one body with the flesh on it, a number of watches and spectacles, and a tin box containing books, which were either given to the children to play with, or left among the rocks until carried away by the wind, or lost and buried in the sand. One old woman said she had seen ten white men dragging a sledge with a boat on it on the eastern coast of Washington Bay ; they were very thin, wore no fur clothing, and their mouths were dry, hard, and black. The next spring she saw a tent at the head of Terror Bay, with dead bodies in- side it, and others near to it, covered with sand. This old woman, Ahlangyah, told her story with much emotion. It is supposed that the living men seen by her were those who died near the inlet above spoken of, and that this was the furthest point in the direction of Hudson's Bay which was reached. by the survivors of the unfortunate explorers after the abandonment of their ships ; and. their deaths must have occurred at a spot spoken of by Colonel Gilder as a most terrific picture of utter desolation, and named by him" Starvation Cove." It is marked on the map as one of the many places where the Schwatka Expedition buried skeletons, but this was done later, when the snow had melted.

One of the most touching accounts is that of' the finding of the grave Of the officers who had received such careful sepal- tore near Point le Vesconte, upon a little hillook of sand and gravel, the only spot affording an opportunity for Christian- like interment. Unlike the case of Lieutenant Irving, there was nothing to identify the remains, whieh had been torn from their resting-place by the natives, and which were gathered to- gether from an area of a quarter of a mile, and carefully reinterred. In searching for relics, the expedition divided itself into three parties, which kept a mile or a mile and a half from each other, and examined all rocky places that looked the least like opened graves or torn-down Cairns, or any spot where stones of any kind seemed to have been gathered together by human hands. Near Cape I'elix, the most northerly point of their travels, a pillar, seven feet high, was discovered upon a high hill, about two miles from the coast ; but though taken down very carefully, no record or mark was found, and. it was, therefore, rebuilt, and an account of the Franklin search party deposited within it.

The different' tribes of Esquimaux depend, of emirs°, for their diet upon the animals frequenting the place of their abode; thus the Kinnepatoos, who live on the shore of Hudson's Bay, near Chesterfield Inlet, subsist principally upon reindeer ; the Ooqueesiksilliks on fish ; the tribes of the northern shore of Hudson's Strait, Fox Channel, and Southampton Island rely chiefly upon walrus meat ; while the seal seems to be hunted on every inhabited Arctic coast. Colonel Gilder tells


deal about the capture of all these animals, and their value as articles of diet ; and his chapters on amateur Esquimaux let us into many curious secrets with regard to them.

(deer) hunting seems to be no pastime, but real, hard work ; while taking a seal requires rather endurance and patience. The preparation of the skins for clothing and other purposes is done by the women, after the men have performed the scrap- lag of them, which is very laborious, To make the leather pliable, it must be chewed, the warm breath and the saliva, as well as the teeth, playing an effectual part in the process. Chewing is, it seems, visiting work among Esquimaux ladies, who take it, instead of knitting, to each other's topics or igloos ; and it must be a droll sight to see them gnawing and sucking

a pair of boot-soles, or with the end of a roll formed of an entire seal-skin thrust into their capacious mouths ; although, as Colonel Gilder says, one's respect for them is increased by the cheerfulness with which they perform the most disagreeable duties. It is the part of the women to attend constantly to the lamps, to melt water for drinking and cooking, and to prepare the food, as well as to turn the wet stockings and shoes inside out and dry them at night ; and a "good wife" is one who sleeps but little after a hard day's march, but attends constantly to the articles on the drying-frame, getting up long before any one else is awake, to look over and mend the clothing. Her posi- tion, when not asleep, is with her bare feet bent under her, Turkish fashion, before her fire, where she sits all day long, en- gaged in her household duties, solacing herself from time to time with a discordant song. "She is the slave of her husband and children, and treated to more abuse than affection,"—in fact, it is the custom amongst the Inuits to exchange wives for a time, whenever the doing so may happen to be matter of convenience.

Colonel Gilder has paid much attention not only to the manners and customs of the Inuits, but also to their philology, and he gives a glossary of all the words in general use in con- versation between the natives and traders, such words not being, however, exactly the form of speech in use among the people themselves, although it appears that the Esquimaux language has altered in many respects, and admitted some foreign idioms. Much incidental information is also to be found in these interesting pages as to the animals and plants of the Arctic regions. The author's delight on seeing flowers can well be conceived. The tiny violet, bedded in dark-green moss, and the daisy and the buttercup, speaking of home, must, indeed, have been welcome, and we can quite sympathise with the unwilling- ness to kill, even in the cause of science, the little bird whose simple melody gladdened the short summer.

The Schwatka Expedition is remarkable, as having made the longest sledge journey ever accomplished in the Arctic regions, having travelled 3,251 statute miles. It remained absent from the outposts of civilisation—i.e., the whaling harbour—for twelve months, and it is conspicuous as being the only journey carried out through the entire course of an Arctic winter. That it owed its success in great measure to the capability and strong will of its commander, cannot be doubted. Has he perished in the unfortunate Rodgers,' in which he nobly volunteered to seek the lost Jeannette ?' or will he prove to be one of the few who have escaped? Of this number we are glad to see that Colonel Gilder is one, so we may expect from his graphic pen a yet tore thrilling narrative of toil and ad- venture than even the present volume, which, however, is from first to last replete with interest of a special kind.