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registering the usual thermometrical, magnetical, and atmospherical observations: Lieutenant Back finished his drawings, Dr. Richardson cured the sick and attended to natural history, Mr. Kendall constructed charts and also made drawings, and Mr. Dease was provider general. A piper, named Wilson, was ready to strike up a tune whenever he was called upon, and to his strains, assisted by those of a violin, the men sometimes danced, and made the welkin ring with their merriment.
A great deal of snow fell about the middle of October. In December, the length of their shortest day did not exceed five hours; the long nights were cheered by a most brilliant moonlight, and by the frequent appearance of the Aurora Borealis. During some of the grandest displays of this beautiful phenomenon, Captain Franklin says that the disturbed motions of the magnetic needle were very remarkable, and a most careful series of observations convinced the party that they had a close connection with the direction of the beams of light of which the Aurora was composed.' My observations,' he adds, also led me to conclude that the deviations of the needle were in a certain degree connected with changes in the weather; for previous to a gale or a snow storm, the deviations were always considerable; but during the continuance of the gale, the needle almost invariably remained stationary.'
During the month of February (1826), the party were reduced to very short allowance, in consequence of the failure of the fishery. By good fortune their hunters killed a moose deer, at a time when they had not an ounce of provision left.
The conduct of the men,' says Captain Franklin, during the season of scarcity, was beyond all praise; and the following anecdote is worthy of record, as displaying the excellent feeling of a British seaman, and as speaking the sentiments of the whole party. Talking with Robert Spinks, as to the difference of his present food, from that to which he had been accustomed on board ship, I said I was glad the necessity was over of keeping them on a short allowance. Why, sir," said he, "we never minded about the short allowance, but we were fearful of having to use the pemmican intended for next summer; we only care about the next voyage, and we shall be all glad when the spring comes, that we may set off; besides, at the worst time, we could always spare a fish for each of our dogs."'-p. 72.
We must not omit a curious observation which Captain Franklin frequently made with respect to that mysterious instrument, the magnetic needle, in the course of the month of March.
During this month I noticed that on several occasions the magnetic needle oscillated when I approached it in a dress of water-proof cloth, although it remained stationary when others of the party examined it in their ordinary garments. The water-proof dress probably acted by exciting electricity in the body, although this opinion is rather contradicted by the fact of a fur cap, which had been rubbed by the hand until it affected the gold-leaf electrometer, producing no change in the needle, and my approach to the electrometer not causing the gold-leaf to expand.'-p. 76.
Great Bear Lake, near which the expedition so long resided, is of very considerable extent, consisting of five arms, or bays; its greatest length is one hundred and seventy-five miles; greatest breadth, one hundred and fifty; depth is unknown. Near the shore, forty-five fathoms of line were let down without touching the bottom. The lake is principally fed by Dease river, which rises in the Copper mountains to the north; it communicates on the south with the Mackenzie, through the Great Bear Lake river.
The ice began to decay rapidly about the middle of May, and towards the latter end of June (24th), the whole party embarked in four boats (a new one having been built), once more in the Great Bear Lake river, which conducted them to the Mackenzie. It had been arranged that Dr. Richardson, Mr. Kendal, and ten men, should proceed in two boats by an eastern branch of the Mackenzie to the sea, for the purpose of surveying the coast between the mouth of that river, and the mouth of the Coppermine; while Captain Franklin should proceed with the other members of the expedition, as already stated, to the western coast. The two parties accordingly separated on the 4th of July; we shall follow, in the first instance, that of the commander, and afterwards revert to Dr. Richardson.
Captain Franklin arrived in sight of the mouth of the river on the 7th, and on an island, forming the east side of the bay into which the river opened, he discovered a crowd of tents, with many Esquimaux strolling amongst them. He opened a communication with them immediately, in the most frank, and we may add, in a most incourteous manner, for which he and his companions were afterwards near paying somewhat dearly. The Esquimaux surrounded the boats, and commenced a general pillage of the articles which they contained. The bay being shallow, and the tide going out, the boats were aground, and completely exposed to the depredations of the natives, until at length recourse was had to the fire arms. It is highly creditable to the officers and men, that though they received many provocations, they forbore from even threatening to use their muskets, until their lives were actually endangered. Even then they did not fire, and were content with seeing the Esquimaux fly from them in all directions. It was evident, that although the savages had never seen white men before, they were sufficiently informed of the destructive powers of powder and ball. Their first alarm, however, being over, they held a conference, as Captain Franklin was subsequently informed, at which it was agreed that they should fall on the boats in great numbers, plunder them, and then massacre the whole party. This design was fortunately frustrated by the precautions which were adopted. The boats were pulled into deep water, and quitted this unfriendly shore.
After proceeding some miles in a W.N.W. direction, however, their
farther progress was stopped by the ice, which appeared as firmly frozen as in winter. Some of the masses were piled up to the height of thirty feet. The boats were hauled on shore, where another party of Esquimaux soon presented themselves. An intercourse was opened with these with due caution; they were conciliated by some trifling presents, and afforded the expedition all the information in their power.
'Further to the westward, said they, the ice often adheres to the land throughout the summer, and when it does break away, it is carried but a short distance to seaward, and is brought back whenever a strong wind blows on the coast. If there be any channels in those parts they are unsafe for boats, as the ice is continually tossing about. We wonder, therefore, they said, that you are not provided with sledges and dogs, as our men are, to travel along the land, when these interruptions occur. They concluded by warning us not to stay to the westward after the stars could be seen, because the winds would then blow strong from the sea, and pack the ice on the shore.'-p. 116.
The appearance, dress, and manners of these people, were similar in every respect to those of the tribes described by Captain Parry. They were for the greater part furnished with knives, which were not of British manufacture, and were unlike those sold by the Hudson's Bay Company. They said that they received them principally from a party of Esquimaux, 'who reside at a great distance to the westward, and to meet whom, they send their young men every spring with furs, seal skins, and oil, to exchange for those articles. They did not know from what people the Esquimaux obtained the goods, but they supposed from some "Kabloonacht" (white people), who reside far to the west.? Captain Franklin has no doubt that the articles in question were furnished by the Russian fur traders, who received in return for them all the furs collected on this northern coast. This is an interesting fact, as it proves the existence of an intercourse between Russia and the American continent.
The boats continued to advance along the northern coast during the remainder of the month of July, and the first fifteen days of August, but so slowly, and with such difficulty and danger, in consequence of heavy fogs, and the ice being so densely packed near the shore, that it was deemed advisable to persevere no longer, when they had reached about half way between Mackenzie river and Icy Cape, in latitude 70° 24′ N., and longitude 149° 37′ W. The summer, bad as it had been, was now nearly at an end;' during the night, ice of considerable thickness was formed,' and other symptoms indicated the commencement of autumn. Besides, Captain Franklin was directed in his instructions 66 to commence his return on the 15th or 20th of August, if in consequence of slow progress, or other unforeseen accident, it should remain doubtful whether he should be able to reach Koztebue's Inlet the same season."
From the official account of Captain Beechey's proceedings in advancing eastward from Icy Cape, it appears that Captain Franklin's determination to return was the wisest that could have been adopted. Mr. Elson, the master of the Blossom, left the ship in a barge off Icy Cape, on the 18th of August, and proceeded along the coast without interruption, until the 22nd of the month, when he arrived off a very low sandy spot, beyond which it was found impossible to proceed, in consequence of the ice being grounded upon it, and extending to the horizon in every direction, except that by which the boat had advanced, and was so compact, that no openings were seen in any part of it.' Mr. Elson effected his return, with a great deal of difficulty, to the Blossom, on the 10th of September, after reaching the most northern point of the continent yet known, in latitude 71° 23′ 39′′" N.; and longitude 156° 21′ W., one hundred and twenty miles beyond Icy Cape.
'Could I have known,' says Captain Franklin, or by possibility imagined, that a party from the Blossom had been at the distance of only one hundred and sixty miles from me, no difficulties, dangers, or discouraging circumstances, should have prevailed on me to return; but, taking into account the uncertainty of all voyages in a sea obstructed by ice, I had no right to expect that the Blossom had advanced beyond Kotzebue Inlet, or that any party from her had doubled Icy Cape. It is useless how to speculate on the probable result of a proceeding which did not take place; but I may observe that, had we gone forward as soon as the weather had permitted, namely, on the 18th, it is scarcely possible that any change of circumstances could have enabled us to overtake the Blossom's barge.'*-p. 165.
The party returned to the Mackenzie without encountering any serious danger; having traced the coast, westward from the mouth of that river, three hundred and seventy-four miles, without having found one harbour in which a ship could find shelter.' They reached Fort Franklin on the 21st of September, after an absence of three months, during which they had travelled two thousand and forty-eight statute miles, six hundred and ten of these having been through parts not previously discovered. Dr. Richardson and his party had already returned from their expedition, the result of which we must very briefly notice.
The distance between the mouths of the Mackenzie and the Coppermine rivers, was known not to exceed five hundred miles.
* I have recently learned, by letter from Captain Beechey, that the barge turned back on the 25th of August, having been several days beset by the ice. He likewise informs me, that the summer of 1827 was so unfavourable for the navigation of the northern coast of America, that the Blossom did not reach so high a latitude as in the preceding year; nor could his boat get so far to the east of Icy Cape, by one hundred miles. The natives, he says, were numerous, and, in some instances, illdisposed.'
The party, as they proceeded along the eastern channel of the Mackenzie, observed on its banks frequent traces of their having been recently visited by the Esquimaux. Dr. Richardson describes two encampments of these people, with whom he held communication. They were not very kindly disposed, though they appeared to be a shade farther advanced towards civilization than any of their countrymen who have yet been seen. Dr. Richardson thinks that the Esquimaux and the Indians are traceable to a common origin. The circumstances which at present form a strong apparent distinction between them, appear to him to have arisen from the necessity imposed on the Esquimaux by their situation, ' of associating in numbers for the capture of the whale, and of laying up large hoards of blubber for winter consumption,' Hence they have been induced to build villages for their common residence, and to acquire those social habits which are incompatible with the wandering and precarious life of an Indian hunter.' of the boats having stranded on the shore, they attempted to avail themselves of the circumstance, and were about to commence a general attack, when the crews of the boats displayed their fire-arms, which had been concealed. There was no occasion to fire.
On the 9th of July, the ice-blink appeared on the horizon, an indication of their approach to the sea. Proceeding along the coast, Dr. Richardson found it chiefly consisting of level sands, inclosing pieces of water, which communicate with the estuary of the river, and interspersed with detached conical hills, rising from one to two hundred feet above the general level.' The party with great difficulty threaded their way for some days among islands and pieces of ice, frequently interrupted by storms and fogs. On the 16th they reached a remarkable island, rising to the height of four hundred feet above the level of the sea; from its summit they descried a piece of water, resembling a large river, and bearing south, winding through a country pleasantly varied by gently swelling hills and dales.' This large sheet of water appears to have been no other than the famous Esquimaux lake, or rather a portion of it, of which Mackenzie had heard so much. The following day Dr. Richardson describes the sun's rays as very powerful; the heat was oppressive, even while sitting at rest in the boat.' On the 18th they came up with another encampment of Esquimaux, whose conduct we must allow Dr. Richardson to describe.
'On nearing the shore we distinguished twelve Esquimaux tents, on an eminence; and a woman, who was walking on the beach, gave the alarm, but not until we were near enough to speak to her, her surprise having fixed her to the spot for a time. The men then rushed out, brandishing their knives, and, using the most threatening expressions, forbade us to land, and desired us to return by the way we came. Ooligbuck endeavoured to calm their fears, by telling them that we were friends, but they replied only by repeating their threats, and by hideous grimaces and gestures, which displayed great agility; frequently standing on one